“Savior and Friend”

"My spirit hath rejoiced in God, My Savior" (Lk. 1:47)

     INTRO.: A hymn which encourages our spirits to rejoice in God, our Savior is "Savior and Friend," also known by its first title "Rest of the Weary." The text was written by John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-1875).  A minister with the Church of England, he produced eleven volumes of poetry which included around 300 hymns, nearly a fourth of which remained in common usage for many years. "Rest of the Weary" was first published in his 1863 Hymns of Love and Praise for the Church’s Year. Among his other hymns which have appeared in our books are "Fight the Good Fight with All Thy Might" and "My Sins, My Sins, My Savior." He was killed in a fall from the roof of the church building at St. Nicholas’, Gildford, while it was being rebuilt. The traditional tune (St. Cecilia–Sewell) used with "Rest of the Weary" was composed by Frank Sewell (1837-1915).  A Swedenborgian minister and President of Urbana College (now University) in Urbana, OH, he provided words or music for over twenty hymns and helped to edit the hymnbook The Magnificat published by the Swedenborgian Committee of Worship.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “Rest of the Weary” did not appear in any. A form of it, copyright in 2000, may be found, under the title “Savior and Friend” in the 2007 Sumphonia Hymn Supplement published by the Guardian of Truth Foundation as a prototype for their new hymnbook and edited by Steve Wolfgang, et. al. The first stanza of Monsell’s hymn was used, with some slight alterations; two additional stanzas, which seem to be drawn at least somewhat from the thoughts of Monsell’s other stanzas, were provided by Matthew W. Bassford and Craig A. Roberts; and a new tune (Coulson) was composed by Roberts.  This same version is also found in the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement published by R. J. Stevens Music and edited by R. J. Stevens, Dane K. Shepard, and Tim Stevens.

     The song is a statement of how much we rely totally on God in every aspect of our lives.

I. Stanza 1 calls Him the rest of the weary
“Rest of the weary, joy of the sad,
Hope of the dreary, light of the glad;
Home of the stranger, strength to the end,
Refuge from danger, Savior and Friend!”
 A. God offers rest to the weary: Ps. 37:7
 B. His word is a light unto our pathway: Ps. 119:105
 C. Through His word He gives us a refuge from danger: Ps. 46:1

II. Stanza 2 identifies Him as a pillow for our heads
“Pillow where lying, love rests its head;
Peace of the dying, life of the dead;
Path of the lowly, prize at the end,
Breath of the holy, Savior and Friend!”
 A. Just as we lay our heads on a pillow at night, so the Christian can lie down in peace and sleep with his mind resting on the pillow of God’s love: Ps. 4:8
 B. This same love brings peace to those who are dying in the Lord and life to those who are dead: Ps. 116:15
 C. It also directs us along the strait and narrow path of the lowly with the prize of eternal life at the end: Ps. 16:11

III. Stanza 3 says that He is the one who helps us when we stumble and wander
“When my feet stumble, to Thee I’ll cry,
Crown of the humble, cross of the high;
When my steps wander, over be bend
True and fonder, Savior and Friend!”
 A. Sometimes our feet stumble and we are in danger of falling: Ps. 56:13
 B. However, when we cry to God, He will hear our cry and save us: Ps. 61:1
 C. Even when our steps wander, His word will help us find our way back: Ps. 119:9-12

IV. Stanza 4 indicates that He is worthy of our praise forever
“Ever confessing Thee, I will raise
Unto Thee blessing, glory, and praise;
All my endeavor, world without end,
Thine to be ever, Savior and Friend!”
 A. Because God is our Creator, we should be ever confessing Him and blessing His name: Ps. 145:1-2
 B. The reason is that He is worthy of our praise: Ps. 48:1
 C. However, it is not enough just to praise Him with words; we must also praise Him in deed by devoting all our endeavors to Him: Ps. 119:38

     CONCL.: The two additional stanzas in the Symphonia and Hymns for Worship Hymn Supplements are as follows:
2. “Wealth of the giving, Heart of the kind,
Breath of the living, Sight of the blind;
Path of the lowly, Crown at the end,
Bread of the holy, Savior and Friend.”
3. "Song of the sighing, Lamp of the led,
Prayer of the dying, Life of the dead;
Be my Endeavor, Unto the end,
Love me forever, Savior and Friend.”
This hymn would fall into the category of devotional songs, designed to make us more aware of how much we need the Lord and thus to draw us closer to Him as our “Savior and Friend.”


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