“Ye Glittering Joys of Earth, Adieu”


“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21) 

     INTRO.:  A hymn which reminds us that where we put our treasure, whether on earth or in heaven, that is where our hearts will be is “Ye Glittering Toys of Earth, Adieu.”  The text was written by Anne Steele (1716-1778).  It was first published in her Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional of 1760.  Miss Steele is also remembered for the hymns “Father, Whate’er of Earthy Bliss” and “To Our Redeemer’s Glorious Name.”  The tune (Farnham Mason) was composed by Lowell Mason (1792-1872).  It first appeared in his Carmina Sacra of 1841.  Mason was a prolific composer of hymn tunes, including those commonly used with “A Charge to Keep I Have,” “From Greenland’s Icy Mountains,” “Go, Labor On,” “God Is the Fountain Whence,” “My Faith Looks Up to Thee,” “My Soul, Be on Thy Guard,” “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” “Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him,” “Watchman, Tell Us of the Night,” “To Us a Child of Hope Is Born,” “Work, for the Night Is Coming,” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”  Some books have used this tune with Anna L. Barbauld’s “Again the Lord of Light and Life,” which is most often sung to a tune (Arlington) arranged from music by Thomas Arne, but this involves taking Barbauld’s four four-line stanzas and making them two eight-line stanzas.

     “Ye Glittering Toys of Earth, Adieu” focuses our attention on the eternal over the temporal.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that there is a prize which is greater than earthly treasure

“Ye glittering toys of earth, adieu,

A nobler choice be mine;

A regal prize attracts my view,

A treasure all divine;

Begone unworthy of my cares,

Ye spacious baits of sense;

Inestimable worth appears

The pearl of price immense.”

 A. Each of us must make a choice as to what is most important to us in life, just as Joshua challenged Israel to choose whom they would serve: Josh. 24:15

 B. But there is one prize which is greater that all else, the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, which Paul gave up all else to obtain: Phil. 3:7-14

 C. This prize is likened unto a pearl of great price: Matt. 13:45-46

II. Stanza 2 tells us that there is a Person who is greater than any earthly honor

“Jesus, to multitudes unknown—

O name divinely sweet!

Jesus, in Thee, in Thee alone,

Wealth, honor, pleasure meet!

Should both the Indies at my call

Their boasted stores resign:

With joy I would renounce them all,

For leave to call Thee mine.”

 A. That person who is like a precious stone is the Lord Jesus: 1 Pet. 2:3-4

 B. His name is so divinely sweet that at His name every knee should bow and confess Him as Lord: Phil. 2:10-11

 C. Therefore, we look to Him for wealth, honor, and pleasure, and glory only in Him: 1 Cor. 1:30-31

III. Stanza 3 tells us that there is a gift which is greater than worldly possession

“Should earth’s vain treasures all depart,

Of this dear gift possessed,

I’d clasp it to my joyful heart,

And be forever blest:

Dear Sovereign of my soul’s desire,

Thy love is bliss divine!

Accept the wish that love inspires,

And bid me call Thee mine.”

 A. There is always the possibility that earth’s vain treasures will depart from us—and it is certain that we shall depart from them: Lk. 12:16-21

 B. However, there is a dear gift from God which will never depart because it is the gift of eternal life: Rom. 6:23

 C. And this precious gift is bestowed upon us by God’s love: Jn. 3:16

     CONCL.:  This is one of those hymns of yesteryear that are practically unknown today.  Modern hymns from the ecumenical movement tend to be centered on outward themes such as promoting social justice, ending poverty, and raising political consciousness.  The current popular songs from the Christian Contemporary Music genre seem to focus inwardly on how we feel, what we think, and where we are.  The older hymns were primarily upward, dealing with the praise of God, the honor of Christ, and the desire for heaven.  While I must certainly live in this world and follow God’s plan for my life here, I must also understand that my citizenship is not on this earth but in heaven, and this attitude will better enable me to say, “Ye Glittering Toys of Earth, Adieu.”


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