“ONLY A FEW SHORT YEARS”
“…For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14)
INTRO.: A song which reminds us that our life is just a vapor that appears for a little time and the vanishes away is “Only a Few Short Years.” The text was written and the tune was composed both by Ethel P. Crippen. I have no further information about the song writer, except that Hymnary.org credits here with four other songs besides this one, or the background of the song except that it was copyright 1903 by William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921). It most likely first appeared that year in a book entitled Devotional Songs published by Biglow and Main Co. of New York City, NY. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson.
The song mentions several situations which remind us how short our lives here on this earth are.
I. Stanza 1 talks about heartache
“O it’s only a few short years of heartache and longing;
O it’s only a few short years of patient service here!
Then the Savior will gently lead us Where we’ll find all our heart’s desire,
When we cast away these earthly limitations On the joyful resurrection morn.”
A. Life on earth is often punctuated by times of heartache, longing, and other troubles: Job 14:1
B. For the Christian, it must also be characterized by patient service: Phil. 2:17
C. All of this can be borne with the hope of the joyful resurrection morn: Phil. 3:10-11
II. Stanza 2 talks about duty
“O it’s only a few short years, then waste not one moment;
O it’s only a few short years, the days go swiftly by!
Do each duty, though great or humble, In a spirit of tenderest love,
Then the little heaven of love around you growing, You shall someday find in heaven above.”
A. Because we have only a few short years, we should not waste one moment but redeem the time: Eph. 5:15-16
B. We need to realize that the days go swiftly by and our lives are like a sigh: Ps. 90:9-10
C. Therefore, we need to do our duty while we have the time and opportunity: Gal. 6:10
III. Stanza 3 talks about pain
“O it’s only a few short years, though pain oft o’er-take us;
O it’s only a few short years, though care and grief seem long!
Then live only and all for Jesus, In His service is joy complete;
If He bids you, wait in quiet, sweet communion, If He sends you, go on swift glad feet.”
A. Everyone experiences pain during our few short years on earth: Rom. 8:22
B. Sometimes the care and grief that come upon us seem long: 1 Pet. 2:19
C. However, if we live only and all for Jesus, we can still rejoice in the Lord: Phil. 4:4
CONCL.: The chorus contrasts the few short years of this life with the everlasting joy and peace of eternity.
“O it’s only a few short years, Only a few short years,
Till we leave the toil and tears, And we enter in the years
Of an everlasting peace and joy.”
All of us, Christians included, face various kinds of difficulties in this life, but God will give us the strength to endure them if we look to Him and remember that they will last “Only a Few Short Years.”