(photograph of Richard and Anne Morrison)
“ARE YOU WEIGHED DOWN?”
“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12.1)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to run with patience the race that is set before us by laying aside the things of this life that weigh us down and looking to the Lord is “Are You Weighed Down?” (#654 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Craig A. Roberts (b. 1957). The tune was composed by Richard L. Morrison, who was born on Nov. 17, 1945, in Fullerton, CA, to Richard Lee and Doris Morrison. Because his father was a preacher, he lived in Washington, Oregon, several places in California, Arizona, and Texas during his youth. His musical education began at the feet of the prolific and admired song writer Austin Taylor, who partnered with Edgar Furr to start the Texas Normal Singing School at Sabinal, TX, in the late 1940’s. Having begun to write songs at about age fifteen, he went to the University of Houston (TX), playing the trombone on a music scholarship for two years until he married his wife, Emily Anne, in 1965. They have four children.
In 1986 Morrison began working on a Ph. D. in Computer Science, taking one computer class and one music class each semester, and started writing music again. For several years he taught at the Texas Normal Singing School every year, and now works at the Oklahoma Singing School at Wilburton, OK, each summer, where he has taught music composition and advanced sight singing. Currently he and Anne live in Plano, TX, where he serves as an elder at the Spring Creek church of Christ. Richard, who has a deep love for the Lord and a desire to be faithful to God’s word, has written the music for over 50 hymns, many of which are regularly used by the Lord’s people across the country, helps churches grow in their ability to worship God, and serves as a helpful mentor and resource for several song writers. He knows that good song worship is essential for a healthy local church.
“Are You Weighed Down?” was first published in 1993 in the revised edition of Hymns for Worship. Morrison also wrote or collaborated in writing tunes for two other songs which appear in Hymns for Worship Revised, “Resurrection” with Gary L. Box, and “Come My Soul, Your Plea Prepare” with Roberts and co-editor R. J. Stevens (1927-2012). In 2000 and again in 2002, he helped to published two new songbook supplements entitled Sing To The Lord! with the assistance of several others, including Stevens. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “Are You Weighed Down?” is found only in Hymns for Worship and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.
The song identifies the characteristics of the Lord by which He provides for our needs and helps us in life.
I. Stanza 1 speaks of His omnipotence
“Are you weighed down with cares of life?
Weak in temptation, faint in strife?
Lean on the Lord to help you through;
Almighty God will strengthen you.”
1 Many times we find ourselves weighed down with cares of life: Lk. 21.34
2. Such cares often present temptations which, when we are faint, can draw us away from God: Jas. 1.14-15
3. In these times, we need to lean for strength upon God who is Almighty: Gen. 17.1
II. Stanza 2 mentions His omnipresence
“Are you alone and far away?
Find a calm place to sing and pray,
For in the midst are gathered two,
All-present God is there with you.”
- When we feel alone and far away, we can find a calm place to sing and pray, as did Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail: Acts 16.25
- Jesus has promised that where two or three are gathered together, He will be with them: Matt. 18.20
- Thus, in such times we can remember that there is no place that we can flee from the presence of the All-Present God: Ps. 139.7-12
III. Stanza 3 refers to His omniscience
“Are you afraid of coming years,
Filled with uncertain joys and tears?
Blessings or burdens, great or few,
All-knowing God knows best for you.”
- It is easy for our finite minds to be afraid of coming years: Matt. 6.34
- The fact is that we do not know what will be in the future, whether joys or tears, whether blessings or burdens: Jas. 4.14
- However, regardless of what the future holds, we can put our trust in the All-Knowing God who alone can declare the end from the beginning: Isa. 46.9-10
CONCL.: All of us have to deal with cares and temptations in life. There are times when we feel alone. And we face a future that, so far as this life is concerned, is uncertain. However, if we put our trust in the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, He has promised that He will always provide for us as best suits our needs. Therefore, we can find comfort by turning to God when others ask us, “Are You Weighed Down?”