"SAFE WITHIN THE VAIL"
"Which hope we have…which entereth into that within the veil" (Heb. 6:19)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to look forward to the realization of that hope which enters into that within the veil is "Safe Within the Vail." The text was written by E. Adams. The tune was composed by J. M. Evans. I have not been able to find any further information on either the author, the composer, or the song, except that one website says that it was included in Sacred Songs and Solos, Revised and Enlarged. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth cenetury for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1938 Spiritual Melodies and the 1943 Standard Gospel Songs both edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1944 Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by Will W. Slater; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater.
The song pictures heaven as a safe harbor into which we sail after the storms of life are over.
I. Stanza 1 talks about the land ahead
"’Land ahead!’ its fruits are waving O’er the hills of fadeless green,
And the living waters laving Shores where heavenly forms are seen."
A. Heaven is referred to in scripture as a land or country which the righteous desire: Heb. 11:15-16
B. It is described as having hills of fadeless green because the tree of life blooms year round: Rev. 22:2
C. Living waters from the river of life lave its shores: Rev. 22:1
II. Stanza 2 talks about the blessed inhabitants
"Onward, bark; the cape I’m rounding. See the blessed wave their hands;
Hear the harps of God resounding From the bright immortal bands."
A. Rounding the cape would seem to be a figurative expression referring to death: Heb. 9:27
B. After death, when the Lord returns, we shall see the blessed wave their hands because the righteous dead will be raised, the living dead will be changed, and we shall rise together to meet the Lord: 1 Cor. 15:51-52, 1 Thess. 4:16-17
C. We shall also hear the harps of God resounding, symbolic of the beautiful sound of the singing of angels: Rev. 14:1-2
III. Stanza 3 talks about the sunny shores
"There, let go the anchor, riding On this calm and silvery bay.
Seaward fast the tide is gliding; Shores in sunlight stretch away."
A. The crew of a ship puts out an anchor to stabilize it and then lets the anchor go when they desire to move : Acts 27:29, 40
B. The scene here is that as the bark nears the shore, the anchor that holds it back is loosed so that it can be be driven into the calm and silvery bay, symbolizing the rest that the righteous will have: Rev. 14:13
C. Those shores will be bathed in sunlight because the glory of God Himself and the Lamb will illuminate it: Rev. 21:23
IV. Stanza 4 talks about the Rock of our salvation
"Now we’re safe from all temptation; All the storms of life are past.
Praise the Rock of our salvation; We are safe at home at last."
A. In that heavenly country, the saints will be safe from all temptations and storms of life, because all such things as cause tears, sorrow, crying, and pain will be done away: Rev. 21:1-4
B. There Jesus Himself will be the Rock of our salvation: Ps. 89:26
C. And then we shall be safe at home at last in that city which we have sought: Heb. 13:14
CONCL.: The chorus completes the thought of the ship sailing safely into the eternal harbor.
"Rocks and storms I’ll fear no more, When on that eternal shore;
Drop the anchor! furl the sail! I am safe within the vail!"
Some have criticized many modern hymnbooks among churches of Christ as having too many songs about heaven. It is true that perhaps some are overweighted, and since any book is necessarily limited in size as to the number of selections possibly the sheer number of songs about heaven does not leave enough room for a lot more of the great hymns of praise. Balance is necessary. However, because we are to lay up treasure in heaven and not on earth, there can be nothing wrong with focusing our attention there by singing about that time when we shall be "Save Within the Vail."