“Memories of Galilee”

"…Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light…" (Matt. 4.15-16)

     INTRO.: A song which reflects upon the life of Christ as He ministered in Galilee is "Memories of Galilee." The text was written by Robert Williams Peckham Morris, who was born on Aug. 31, 1818, near Boston, MA. His birth name was Robert Williams Peckham. After his father died, he entered a foster home and took the name of his foster family, the Morrises. A member of the Presbyterian Church, he was an extensive writer on the subject of Freemasonry. In 1868, he visited Palestine on behalf of the Freemasons of America, the result of which was his book Freemasonry in the Holy Land. This hymn was penned while he was seated amid the ruins of Capernaum. The tune was composed by Horatio Richmond Palmer (1834-1907). The was first published in Palmer’s 1874 Songs of Love for the Bible School, but it became fairly well known after its inclusion in the 1881 Sacred Songs and Solos compiled by Ira David Sankey.

     The original first line read "Each gentle dove," but it was changed probably by Palmer, who is perhaps best remembered for his song, "Yield Not To Temptation." Morris, who authored a total of some 300 poetical pieces, died on July 31, 1888, at LaGrange, KY.  Among songsbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ during the twentieth century, this song appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson, and in the 1963 Abiding Hymns (without chorus, most likely for reasons of space) edited by Robert C. Welch. The only other book in which I have ever seen this once popular song is The Broadman Hymnal, a Baptist hymnbook published in 1940 by Broadman Press and edited by Benjamin B. McKinney.

     The song uses common items which we might see every day to help us reflect on the life of our Savior.

I. Stanza 1 focuses upon the sounds of evening
"Each cooing dove and sighing bow, That makes the eve so blessed to me,
Has something far diviner now: It bears me back to Galilee."
 A. Each cooing dove and sighing bow first of all remind us of God who created them: Gen. 1.1, 11, 20
 B. The evening is an excellent time to reflect on spiritual matters, as Jesus often did: Matt. 14.23
 C. And if we think that as Jesus prayed in the evening He might have heard cooing doves and sighing bows, those things can remind us of Him as He trod the roads of Galilee: Mk. 1.39

II. Stanza 2 focuses upon the sights of morning
"Each flowery glen and mossy dell, Where happy birds in song agree,
Through sunny morn the praises tell Of sights and sounds in Galilee."
 A. Again, the flowery glen and mossy dell may remind us of God who created all things: Acts 17.24
 B. The happy birds may even remind us of lessons that Jesus taught: Matt. 6.26
 C. And as we see these things, they may also remind us of Jesus as He would arise early in the morning and perhaps walk to the flower glen or mossy dell to pray: Mk. 1.35

III. Stanza 3 focuses upon the written word
"And when I read the thrilling lore Of Him who walked upon the sea,
I long, O how I long, once more To follow Him in Galilee."
 A. The only way that we can really know about Jesus is to read the accounts of Him in the scriptures: Jn. 20.30-31
 B. It is in the inspired word of God that we can learn of Him who walked upon the sea: Matt. 14.22-33
 C. And through this written record we can learn how to follow Him who once walked in Galilee: 1 Pet. 2.21

     CONCL.: The chorus continues to use the thoughts about Galilee to bring the mind to Jesus:
"O Galilee! sweet Galilee! Where Jesus loved so much to be;
O Galilee! blue Galilee! Come,sing thy song again to me."
Some might dismiss this song as mere sentimentality. However, it is more than just "sanctified nostalgia" because there is a spiritual benefit. The "memories," whether gained from traveling through the land where Jesus walked, from reading the gospel accounts of His life, or even from our own experiences, are not just "happy thoughts" but a means to encourage us to think about Jesus. We do not have to go to the actual land of Galilee to follow Jesus, but we certainly do need to read about His life and work as recorded in the New Testament, and so we can be guided by these "Memories of Galilee."


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