"And they shall see His face…" (Rev. 22:4)
INTRO.: A song which suggests that we should not allow anything to keep us from seeing the Lord’s face is "Nothing Between" (#531 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Charles Albert Tindley Sr., who was born at Berlin, MD, on July 7, 1851 (although some sources give 1856), the son of slave parents, Charles and Esther Tindley. His mother died when he was four years old, and he was separated from his father the following year. As a result of his own efforts, he taught himself how to read and write when he was seventeen, and so determined was he to get an education, that after plowing all day in the field, he would walk or run fourteen miles at night to learn from a school teacher. Shortly after that, he moved to Philadelphia, PA, worked as a hod carrier, was janitor of the small John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church on Bainbridge St., and attended night school. Also, he took a correspondence course from the Boston School of Theology.
Becoming a Methodist minister, Tindley joined the Delaware Annual Conference in 1885, and from then to 1899 served in several places, including South Wilmington, DE; Cape May, NJ; Odessa, DE; Pocomoke Circuit, MD; Fairmount, MD; Ezion, DE; and Wilmington, DE. He was presiding elder of the Wilmington District from 1899 to 1902. During these years, he also began producing hymns, often to emphasize a point in one of his sermons. His 1901 song "I’ll Overcome Some Day" served as a basis for the 1960’s civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome." In 1902, after his marriage to Daisy Henry Tindley, he moved back to Philadelphia and became minister of the same church where had once been a janitor years before, now known as the Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church. One day he was in his study, working on a sermon, when a gust of wind blew some papers over top of his work. "Now, now," he thought to himself, "let nothing between." So the theme of a hymn suggested itself.
"Nothing Between," copyrighted in 1905 and perhaps first printed in 1906, was one of eight hymns from a difficult period of Tindley’s life when negotiations were underway for the purchase of the Westminster Presbyterian Church on Broad St. It is said to reflect some of the emotional joys and disappointments of that time. The arrangement was made by F. A. Clark. His dates are usually given as 1851 to 1933, but these are the same as Tindley’s. One of the song’s early hymnbook publications was in his 1916 New Songs of Paradise. So successful was Tindley’s work that in 1908 a new building was needed for the growing congregation. When it was erected at Broad and Fitzwater Streets in 1924, it was renamed the Tindley Temple Methodist Church, despite his protests. With a membership of over 7,000, great throngs of people attended, and both blacks and whites were represented in the leadership, along with Italians, Jews, Germans, Norwegians, Mexicans, and Danes. Known as one of the founding fathers of American gospel music, Tindley produced around fifty hymns. Other songs by him which have appeared in some of our books are "Leave It There," "Stand By Me," and "By and By" (or "Trials Dark on Every Hand"). He died in Philadelphia on July 26, 1933.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Nothing Between" appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) and with a two-stanza arrangement by the editor in the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1938 Spiritual Melodies edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; and the 1979 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; as well as Sacred Selections, the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat, the latter using the Sanderson arrangement, and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr..
The song identifies several things which we must never allow to come between us and the Savior.
I. Stanza 1 mentions the world
"Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream.
I have renounced all sinful pleasure;
Jesus is mine–there’s nothing between."
A. The Savior between whom we should allow nothing is Jesus Christ: Lk. 2:11
B. Everything that this world has to offer us is a delusive dream; therefore, we must not love the world: 1 Jn. 2:15-17
C. Instead, we must like Moses renounce the pleasures of sin which are but for a season: Heb. 11:24-25
II. Stanza 2 mentions pleasure
"Nothing between like worldly pleasure.
Habits of life, though harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him ever sever;
He is my all–there’s nothing between."
A. We must be careful not to be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God: 2 Tim. 3:1-4
B. Many habits of life, such as seeking wealth which often brings many people pleasure, may seem harmless, but they can be very dangerous: 1 Tim. 6:9-10
C. Therefore, we must never let things like covetousness and the pleasure that it brings sever our hearts from God like an idol: Eph. 5:5
III. Stanza 3 mentions friends
"Nothing between like pride or station;
Self or friends shall not intervene.
Though it may cost me much tribulation,
I am resolved–there’s nothing between."
A. We must never allow pride in whatever station of life which we may have achieved come between us and the Lord because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble: 1 Pet. 5:5-6
B. One thing that often appeals to our pride is the friends that we have, but while good friendships can be helpful, we must never let
friends or even family intervene: Matt. 10:34-39
C. This must be our attitude, even if renouncing this world or rejecting worldly friends causes us much tribulation: Acts 14:21-22
IV. Stanza 4 mentions trials
"Nothing between, e’en many hard trials,
Though the whole world against me convene;
Watching with prayer and much self-denial,
I’ll triumph at last–there’s nothing between."
A. The Bible tells us that we shall fall into various trials to test our faith: Jas. 1:2-3
B. Sometimes, it may seem as if the whole world convenes against us, and Jesus reminds us that if the world hated Him it will hate us too: Jn. 15:18-21
C. Therefore, we need to watch and pray lest we fall into any temptation: Matt. 26:41
CONCL.: The chorus repeats the importance of allowing nothing to come between us and the Savior.
"Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor,
Keep the way clear–there’s nothing between."
Concerning the text, William Farley Smith said, "In this hymn of Christian perfection, Charles A. Tindley teaches us how to clear the path in order to make the soul and the Savior one. Worldly ways must be renounced even if friends and the world may turn against you." Regarding the tune, Horace Clarence Boyer wrote that it is "extremely well-formed…[and] F. A. Clark’s simple harmonies only add to the beauty of one of the most moving of Tindley’s hymns." Surely it should be our "holy desire" that in our relationship with Jesus there should be "Nothing Between."