"AT EVENING TIME"
"And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide…" (Gen. 24:63)
INTRO.: A hymn which helps us to meditate on the Lord at eventide is "At Evening Time." The text was written and the tune was composed both by Franklin Edson Belden (1858-1945). It was copyrighted in 1909 and probably first appeared in the author and composer’s Songs for the King’s Business published in 1910. A hymn writer and hymnbook compiler among Seventh-Day Adventists, Belden is perhaps best known for his invitation song, "Come Unto Me," beginning, "O heart bowed down with sorrow." Another of his hymns, "Ask for the Showers of Blessing," and his arrangement of Henry Cesar Abrasham Malan’s "Casting All My Care Upon Him" with Belden’s tune, have appeared in some of our books. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "At Evening Time" appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson, in an arrangement for male quartet. Today it may be found in this same form in the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard.
The song takes the close of day and applies the picture to the close of life.
I. Stanza 1 says that there shall be light
"At evening time No gathering night;
‘It shall be light,’ God’s holy light,
His word our sight–At evening time."
A. The "evening time" here may be thought of as the evening of life, at which time for the Christian there will be no gathering night,
symbolizing the fear of death: Heb. 2:14-15
B. Just as God said, "Let there be light," at creation, so the darkness of death shall be illuminated by His holy light: Gen. 1:3, 1 Jn. 1:5
C. The means by which this light enters our souls and guides us through the valley of the shadow of death is God’s word: Ps. 119:105
II. Stanza 2 says that there shall be the rainbow
"At evening time Above the shroud
The rainbow cloud, God’s pledge of care;
Trust finds Him there–At evening time."
A. The shroud could refer to the mist of the evening that arises as the sun sets, but it is interesting that it used to be a common custom to place a shroud over a dead body, for which reason the shroud is often used to symbolize death: Heb. 9:27
B. However, above the shroud it is as if the rainbow shines as God’s pledge of care, just as He declared to Noah following the flood: Gen. 9:11-17
C. To have His promise of care and protection we must trust Him: Ps. 37:3-5
III. Stanza 3 says that there shall be repose
"At evening time He gives repose
From earthly woes; Why should we fear?
Day-dawn is near–At evening time."
A. Just as God gives us the repose of sleep in this life at evening time, so at death He gives His people the repose of resting from their labors: Ps. 127:2, Rev. 14:13
B. Because He promises this repose, there is no reason for us to fear: Heb. 13:5-6
C. Thus, the child of God looks forward to the day-dawn that comes after the night of rest: Ps. 30:5
CONCL.: This is one of those short, mostly unused songs that have appeared in a couple of our hymnbooks but is relatively unknown. The male quartet arrangement probably has something to do with that fact, since faithful churches of Christ do not have male quartets or other special groups to provide entertainment in our worship services. It would be nice to see an arrangement for full soprano-alto-tenor-base harmony that the entire congregation could sing. The song would be a good one to sing during a Sunday or midweek night service to remind us both that God remembers us and that we need to remember God "At Evening Time."