“There’s a Rainbow in the Cloud”

“THERE’S A RAINBOW IN THE CLOUD”
“This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you…I do set My bow in the clouds” (Gen. 9:12-13)

     INTRO.:  A sing that is based on the fact that God set His bow in the clouds is “There’s a Rainbow in the Cloud” (#224 in Hymns for Worship Revised).  The text was written and the tune (Rainbow in the Cloud) was composed both by Alton Hardy Howard, who was born on Mar. 29, 1925, near Farmersville, LA, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hardy Howard.  Married to the former Jean Meador, he and his wife had three children, John, Mary, and Janice.  During World War II, he served in France and Germany as a member of the United States Air Force.  In the business realm, he was president of Howard Brothers Discount Stores and Chairman of the Board for Mid-South Development Company.  Also he served as an elder in the White’s Ferry Rd. church of Christ in West Monroe, LA, where he lived for many years. 

     However, Howard is best-known among churches of Christ as a song-writer and hymnbook publisher.  Singing was part of his family life, and he was influenced to love beautiful gospel music from his mother and father.  During the summer, the entire family was required to attend singing schools.  In 1969, he decided to compile a songbook that would contain a balanced selection of classical hymns and newer gospel songs.  Thus Songs Of The Church was published by Howard Publishing Company in 1971.  This song was copyrighted in 1973 and first appeared in a revision of the book made in 1975.  The arrangement is by Peggy Spoonts West (b. 1948).  The book was revised again in 1977 to its present form. 

     After that, Howard edited three other hymnbooks, Songs of Praise in 1986, Songs of the Church 21st Century Edition in 1990 (revised 1994), and Songs of Faith and Praise in 1994, the latter two of which also contain “There’s a Rainbow in the Cloud.”  Among the many songs which he produced for his books, two others, “I Believe in Jesus” and “He Gave Me a Song” also are found in Hymns for Worship.  In addition, Howard Publishing Company has published many other books, such as Our Garden of Song in 1980 by Gene C. Finley, which contains biographies and songs of members of the Lord’s church.  Howard’s brother, V. E. Howard was also a hymnbook publisher and song writer, co-editing Church Gospel Songs and Hymns in 1978 (revised 1983).  Alton Howard passed away on Oct. 29, 2006, in West Monroe, LA.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “There’s a Rainbow in the Cloud” has appeared in the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat, and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr., in addition to Hymns for Worship, Songs Of The Church, Songs of the Church 21st Century Edition, and Songs of Faith and Praise.

     The song takes the fact that God put His rainbow in the cloud and makes an application of it to our lives.

I. In stanza 1, we learn that we can look for the rainbow ‘mid the toils and tears of life

As I journey here mid the toil and tears,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud;

He will safely lead, I must have no fear,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud.

 A. As we journey in life, we shall have our share of toil and tears: Ps. 39:12

 B. But the rainbow reminds us that if we follow Him, like a shepherd with His sheep, the Lord will safely lead us: Ps. 23:1-2

 C. Therefore, we can live without a spirit of fear: 2 Tim. 1:7

II. In stanza 2, we learn that we can look for the rainbow during the dark nights

When the way seems dark and the night grows long,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud;

When my way grows drear and no friend seems near,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud.

 A. The darkness of night is often used to represent periods of loneliness: Ps. 6:6-7

 B. Indeed, there will always be times when the way seems dreary because man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble: Job 14:1

 C. Yet, the rainbow reminds us that even when no friends seem near, the Lord will still be with us to comfort us: Matt. 5:4–the original read, “no friends seems near” but Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. corrects it to “no friend seems near”

III. In stanza 3, we learn that we can look for the rainbow in all seasons of life

After storm and rain, fields of golden grain,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud;

Winter’s cold and pain, summer’s harvest gain,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud.

 A. While God gives us the rain, we sometimes think of it as a time of sadness and gloom: Jer. 10:13

 B. Also, winter, because of its cold and pain, is often looked upon as a time of hardship: S. S. 2:11

 C. However, the rainbow reminds us that after the winter and the rain are gone, there will be summer’s harvest gain: Acts 14:17–for some reason or another, Hymns for Worship has the word “grain” at the end of both lines one and three, probably just a typographical error, but the last word in line three should be “gain.”

IV. In stanza 4, we learn that we can look for the rainbow following the storms of life

When the storms all pass, comes a brighter day,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud;

In that city fair there’s a crown to wear,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud.

 A. The picture of storms is frequently used to represent the various trials and tribulations that we experience in life: Acts 14:21-22

 B. But the rainbow reminds us that when they pass away, there will come a better day: Ps. 30:5

 C. Thus, we look forward to being in that city fair and having a crown of life as our reward: 2 Tim. 4:6-8

     CONCL.: The chorus reemphasizes the need for us to keep looking for the rainbow:

There’s a rainbow that is shining,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud;

When life’s race is run, and the victory’s won,

There’s a rainbow in the cloud.

It is difficult to detect Howard’s rhyming scheme in this hymn.  Of course, some modern hymn writers disdain the practice of rhyming hymns as being “too restrictive,” so we are seeing more and more blank verse being used for hymns.  Howard’s hymns usually have some kind of rhyme, but it is not always easy to determine when and where the rhymes are supposed to occur.  In any event, this song reminds us that during the problems and difficulties of life, we should always look to heaven and see that “There’s a Rainbow in the Cloud.”

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