“What, Never Thirst Again?”

“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst…” (Jn. 4:14)

     INTRO.: A song which points out that those who drink of the water which Jesus gives shall never thirst is “What, Never Thirst Again?” The text was written and the tune (Never Thirst Again) was composed both by May Agnew Stephens, who was born in 1865 at Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  Joining the Salvation Army’s New York 3 Corps in 1890, she helped edit The War Cry and worked on the training home staff and in the Candidates Department. Around 1897, she began working at the Gospel Tabernacle with Albert Simpson, who established the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  Two years later, she helped found the Eighth Avenue Mission and in 1902 married Harold Stephens. For the next two and a half decades, she traveled with her husband who was an evangelist in America, Canada, and Britain, and who later served as minister with the Parkdale Alliance Tabernacle in Toronto, Ontario, Canada “What, Never Thirst Again?” is dated 1903. Producing several other songs, such as “Do You Ever Feel Down-Hearted or Discouraged?” and “Is there a Heart That Is Waiting?”, May edited Missionary Messages in Song around 1910 and died at Nyack, NY, on Mar. 19, 1935.

     The only hymnbook in which I have ever seen the entire text of “What, Never Thirst Again?” is the 1972 Living Hymns edited by Alfred B. Smith for Encore Publications Inc. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson had a single stanza:
“I am feasting on the living bread, I am drinking at the fountain head;
And he that drinketh, Jesus said, Shall never, never thirst again.”
It uses a somewhat similar tune and almost exactly the same chorus as May Agnew Stephens’s song. Forrest M. McCann in Hymns and History calls this an “Anonymous text” and Great Songs lists the music as “Arr. by E. L. Jorgenson.”

     The song encourages us to seek the blessing of living water that Jesus offers for our salvation.

I. Stanza 1 mentions the water that comes from Christ
“There flows from Calvary a stream For every sinner’s pain,
And he that drinketh, Jesus said, Shall never thirst again.”
 A. Calvary is the Latin name of the place where Jesus was crucified: Lk. 23:33
 B. Poets often picture the prophesied fountain for sin as flowing from Calvary: Zech. 13:1
 C. Jesus offers living water to those come to Him: Jn. 7:37-38

II. Stanza 2 contrasts that with the waters of earth
“Earth’s fountains fair but mock our souls, Like desert phantoms lure;
And they that drink, the fainter grow, The keener thirst endure.”
 A. The Bible pictures this earth, even with its fountains, as being like a desert: Ps. 63:1
 B. Drinking at the fountains of earth is often used as a symbol of enjoying the pleasures of sin: Heb. 11:25
 C. This leaves the soul thirsting for something else that only God can provide: Ps. 42:1-2

III. Stanza 3 reminds us that Christ’s water is still available
“This stream from Calvary still flows To bless and cleanse and heal,
And he that drinketh, Jesus said, New life and rest shall feel.”
 A. The stream from Calvary still flows as a river that makes glad the city of God: Ps. 46:6
 B. These waters will cleanse and heal the soul: Ps. 51:2, Mal. 4:2
 C. Those who partake of them will feel new life and rest: Matt. 11:25-27, Jn. 10:10

IV. Stanza 4 emphasizes the blessings that come from Christ’s water
“Oh, blessed stream of pure delight! Oh, balm for every pain!
To thee I haste, for Jesus said I’ll never thirst again.”
 A. The stream of Christ is of pure delight because it causes us to rejoice always in the Lord: Phil. 4:4
 B. It is the balm for every pain: Jer. 8:22
 C. Those who drink will never thirst again because Christ will lead them to the living fountains of waters: Rev. 7:17

     CONCL.: The chorus concludes that those who drink of Christ’s water will be blessed.
“What, never thirst again? No, never thirst again;
What, never thirst again? No, never thirst again;
For he that drinketh, Jesus said, Shall never, never thirst again.”
It certainly is a wonderful thought that Christ offers to sinful mankind living waters that will heal our pain, quench our thirst, cleanse our souls, give us joy, and give a positive answer to the question, “What, Never Thirst Again?”


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