"There shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light…" (Rev. 22.5)
INTRO.: A song which comforts us by focusing our attention on that place where there shall be no night is "Shadows." The text was written and the tune was composed both by Robert Harkness (1888-1961). It was copyrighted in 1906, and the copyright was renewed in 1934 by the Hope Publishing Co. Harkness was born in Australia, received his education at Harvard and other eastern universities, and became a Congregational minister. Also, he was YMCA director with the AEF in France during World War I. Before and after the war he was musical director for evangelists Ruben Archibald Torry and J. Wilbur Chapman. His best-known hymn, especially in our books, is "Why Should He Love Me So?" Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Shadows" appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson.
The song looks forward to the time when this life is over and we receive the eternal reward.
I. Stanza 1 refers to our own death
"When we cross the valley there need be no shadows,
When life’s day is ended and its sorrows o’er,
When the summons comes to meet the blessed Savior,
When we rise to dwell with Him forevermore."
A. The valley is obviously the valley of the shadow of death: Ps. 23.4
B. Therefore, the time "when life’s day is ended" is death: Heb. 9.27
C. However, there need be no shadows because of the hope of rising to dwell with Him forevermore: 1 Thess. 4.16-17
II. Stanza 2 refers to the death of loved ones
"When our loved ones leave us there need be no shadows,
If their faith is fixed in Jesus as their Lord,
For they go to be with Him who died to save them,
To be with the One whom they have long adored."
A. Everyone will experience the death of loved ones, but for those in Christ there need be no shadows as we sorrow not as others without hope: 1 Thess. 4.13-14
B. If our loved ones were characterized by a faith that was fixed in Jesus as Lord, then they die in him and rest from their labors: Rev. 14.13
C. Thus, we can find comfort in the fact that they have departed to be with Christ: Phil. 1.23
III. Stanza 3 refers to the coming of Christ
"When He comes to meet us there need be no shadows,
When He comes in all His glorious array,
When the trump of God shall sound and loved ones waken,
When He leads us onward with triumphant sway."
A. Someday Jesus will come again to meet us: Acts 1.11
B. At that time, the trump of God will sound and the dead will be raised: 1 Cor. 15.52
C. Then He will lead us onward to our eternal inheritance: 1 Pet. 1.3-5
CONCL.: The chorus focuses on that time when we lay life’s burden down and gain the victor’s crown.
"Shadows! no need of shadows
When at last we lay life’s burden down;
Shadows! no need of shadows
When at last we gain the victor’s crown."
The idea of "shadows" in the song seems to refer to those shadows of doubt that often cloud our minds with darkness. With the assurance that God gives in His word to all who truly trust and obey Him, then as we experience the death of loved ones, contemplate our own coming death, and look forward to eternity, there need be no "Shadows."