“ARE YOU LISTENING?”
“Hearken diligently unto Me” (Isa. 55:2)
INTRO.: A song which admonishes everyone, including lost sinners, to hearken diligently unto the Lord is “Are You Listening?” The text was written and the tune (Blessed Quietness) was composed both by William S. Marshall (late 19th c.). It is believed to have been published around 1897. Sometime after that, perhaps around 1900, another song entitled “Blessed Quietness” was written for the same tune by Manie Payne Ferguson, who was born in 1850 at Carlow, Ireland. After emigrating to the United States, Manie and her husband Theodore Pollock Ferguson founded a mission at Los Angeles, CA, in 1886. This eventually expanded into what was known as the “Peniel” Missions along the West Coast of America, and in Africa, Asia, South America, and elsewhere. The main focus of the missions, especially in later years, was ministry to single women. Nethymnal credits her with two other hymns besides this one.
The tune was arranged for Manie’s hymn by James M. Kirk (1854-1945). The first four stanzas and chorus of this hymn are as follows:
1. “Joys are flowing like a river, Since the Comforter has come;
He abides with us forever, Makes the trusting heart His home.”
2. “Bringing life and health and gladness, All around this heavenly guest,
Banished unbelief and sadness, Changed our weariness to rest.”
3. “Like the rain that falls from heaven, Like the sunlight from the sky,
So the Holy Ghost is given, Coming on us from on high.”
4. “See, a fruitful field is growing, Blessed fruit of righteousness;
And the streams of life are flowing In the lonely wilderness.”
Chorus: “Blessed quietness, holy quietness, What assurance in my soul!”
On the stormy sea, He speaks peace to me, How the billows cease to roll!”
I have added the fifth stanza by Manie, who died in 1932, as a fifth stanza to Marshall’s hymn. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, Marshall’s hymn appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson. Today, Ferguson’s hymn may be found in the 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum.
The song makes an effective invitation hymn.
I. Stanza 1 talks about the Savior’s call
“Do you hear the Savior calling, By the wooings of His voice?
Do you hear the accents falling? Will you make the precious choice?”
A. Certainly the Savior calls men to come to Him: Matt. 11:28-30
B. While He does not speak directly today, His voice has been recorded for all time: Heb. 3:15
C. He calls upon us to make a choice just as He did to Israel through Joshua: Josh. 24:15
II. Stanza 2 talks about the Spirit’s wooings
2. “By His Spirit He is wooing, Softly drawing us to Him,
Through the day and night pursuing, With His gentle voice to win.”
A. The Savior sent the Spirit to convict the world of sin: Jn. 16:7-8
B. He draws men to Christ by the teaching that He left us: Jn. 6:44-45
C. Thus, He pursues day and night through His sword which is the word: Eph. 6:17
III. Stanza 3 talks about the word of truth
“By the word of truth He’s speaking To the wandering, erring ones;
List! The voice the stillness breaking! Hear the sweet and solemn tones.”
A. Since the Spirit revealed the word of truth, it is through that medium that both the Savior and the Spirit speak to us: Jas. 1:18
B. This includes how He calls to wandering, erring ones: 1 Thess. 2:13-14
C. Thus, the voice that breaks the stillness with sweet and solemn tones comes through the gospel: Rom. 1:16
IV. Stanza 4 talks about God’s providential dealings
“In His providential dealing, Even in His stern decrees,
In the loudest thunders pealing, Or the murmuring of the breeze.”
A. There is much about God’s providence that we do not know, but we know that He will work out all things together for our good: Rom. 8:28
B. Even His stern decrees are for our good always: Deut. 6:24
C. God can act even through nature to chasten us for our profit: Heb. 12:10
V. Stanza 5 talks about the wonderful salvation
“What a wonderful salvation, Where we always see His face!
What a perfect habitation, What a quiet resting place!”
A. We have received through Christ a wonderful salvation: Heb. 2:3
B. Seeing His face represents the idea of having fellowship with the Lord: Eph. 3:17
C. We have not only have a perfect habitation and quiet resting place here but the hope of an eternal rest in heaven: Heb. 4:9
CONCL.: The chorus asks if we are listening to the different voices that God sends to call us to obey Him?
“Are you listening, are you listening, Now to hear the accents fall?
Are you listening, are you listening, To the Savior’s gentle call?”
All have sinned and are lost. God sent His Son to die for our sins and offer us salvation through His blood. But we must respond in faith and obedience to receive redemption, and God has revealed His message in the scriptures. Thus, He asks each one, “Are You Listening?”