(photograph of D. R. Lucas)
“WE WAIT HIS COMING”
“And to wait for His Son from heaven…” (1 Thess. 1:10)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to be waiting for the God’s Son to return from heaven is “We Wait His Coming” (#340 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Daniel Robertson Lucas, who was born at Belvidere in Boone County, IL, on Jan. 14 (one source says June 14), 1840, the son of Albert and Catherine Robertson Lucas. In 1858, his family moved to Indiana where he entered the Indiana Normal Institute at Burnettsville in White County, and also began preaching at the local Christian Church. Following his marriage to Mary Longley in 1862, Lucas joined Company C Ninety-Ninth Indiana Volunteer Infantry as a Second Lieutenant during the Civil War. Later that year, he was appointed chaplain of the regiment, probably the youngest chaplain in the Civil War in Indiana.
A year and a half after that Lucas was transferred to the office of the Provost Marshal where he continued until the end of the war. The Ninety-Ninth participated in the Vicksburg campaign, the second battle of Jackson, the Chattanooga campaign, the battle of Missionary Ridge, and many other skirmishes. When the war ended, Lucas decided to become a minister. In 1876, Lucas moved to Des Moines, IA, where he worked with the Central Christian Church and helped to found Drake University. In 1888, he returned to Indiana to work with the Central Christian Church in Indianapolis. During his life, he authored sixty hymns and compiled one hymnbook, Apostolic Hymns and Songs. The tune for “We Wait His Coming” was composed by James Holmes Rosecrans (1844-1926). He is best known for melodies with such hymns as “O ‘Twas Wonderful Love,” “One Step at a Time,” and “There Is a Habitation.”
I have not been able to locate any background information on “We Wait His Coming,” other than that it was copyrighted in 1886 and first published the following year in the expanded edition of the Fillmore Brothers’ 1882 New Christian Hymn and Tune Book. In addition, Lucas served as Department Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and secretary of the Morton Monument Commission. At the time of his death in Marion County, IN, on Mar. 11, 1907 (one sources gives 1908), at the age of 67, he was minister with the Seventh St. Christian Church in Indianapolis. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song, so far as I know, is found only in Sacred Selections.
The song uses several different titles to identify the one for whom we wait.
I. Stanza 1 calls Him the Lord
“We wait the coming of the Lord,
The Savior reigning now above;
The promise of His holy Word,
He shall confirm in truth and love.”
- Even the angels announced that the one who was born to be the Savior is Lord: Lk. 2:11
- That Lord ascended and is reigning now above: Eph. 1:20-23
- However, He has promised in His holy Word that He will return: Jn. 14.1-3
II. Stanza 2 calls Him our Friend
“We wait the coming of our Friend,
Who loves us with immortal love,
And shall Himself from heaven descend,
And bring us to our home above.”
- Because He loves us with an immortal love, Jesus is most certainly our Friend: Rom. 5:6-8
- We are His friends if we do what He commands: Jn. 15:14
- Therefore, we wait for this Friend to descend from heaven: 1 Thess. 4:16-17
III. Stanza 3 calls Him the King
“We wait the coming of the King,
Who holds the keys of every grave,
Who will the palms of victory bring
And all His loyal people save.”
- Jesus Christ is pictured in scripture as Lord of lords and King of kings: Rev. 19:11-16
- As King of kings, He holds the keys of death and Hades in His hand: Rev. 1:17-18
- Some day our King will return to bring final victory to His people: 1 Cor. 15:50-54
CONCL.: The chorus urges us to continue to wait for His coming.
“O, wait! calmly wait, for He will come!
O, wait! He will come and bring us home!
O, wait! calmly wait, for He will come!
O, wait, He will come and bring us home!”
There is a similar song, “Wait, and Murmur Not,” with words by W. H. Bellamy and music by William James Kirkpatrick, which follows almost the same metrical pattern. The first stanza reads:
“O troubled heart, there is a home Beyond the reach of toil and care,
A home where changes never come; Who would not fain be resting there?”
The chorus begins, “O, wait, meekly wait, and murmur not.” It is right across the page from the Lucas-Rosecrans song in Sacred Selections. The message of the Old Testament was that the Messiah is coming. The message of the four gospels is that the Messiah or Christ has come. And the message of the rest of the New Testament is that the Christ is coming again. Because we believe the overwhelming evidence that He is God’s Son and the Bible is His word, “We Wait His Coming.”