Oft in Sorrow

This song came up again in the course of my study this morning and I thought I just had to share it.

The poem was written by Henry Kirk White sometime around 1805. Henry White was born in 1785, his father, a butcher in Nottingham, and mother who ran a girl’s boarding school. From an early age Henry excelled in his studies, learning Latin and Greek, and was a published and awarded poet at the age of 15. Through his friend, R.W. Almond, White came to faith in Jesus, and planned to study for ministry. He attended St. John’s College in Cambridge, but soon became ill and died at the age of 22 on Oct. 19, 1806 before he could graduate. Shortly after his death, the manuscript for his poem “Oft in Sorrow” was found and by 1812 had been adapted as a hymn for the church.

The song is a reminder that often the Christian’s journey in this world is filled with tears, sorrow, pain and loss. We are called to join the war, to walk the walk, to take up the cross. Often we are met with failures; our own and those around us. The song is one of encouragement, that the strength for the journey, the victory in battle, the triumph in the end is not ours, but the Lord’s; and because it is His it is sure and certain. “Onward then to battle move; more than conquerors ye shall prove: though opposed by many a foe, Christian soldiers, onward go.”

Here is his poem, and there is a video of the hymn as well.

Oft in danger, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go,
Fight the fight, maintain the strife,
Strengthened with the Bread of Life.

Onward, Christians, onward go,
Join the war, and face the foe;
Faint not, much doth yet remain;
Dreary is the long campaign.

Shrink not, Christians: will ye yield?
Will ye quit the painful field?
Will ye flee in danger’s hour?
Know ye not your Captain’s pow’r?

Let your drooping hearts be glad;
March, in heav’nly armor clad;
Fight, nor think the battle long;
Vict’ry soon shall tune your song.

Let not sorrow dim your eye,
Soon shall ev’ry tear be dry;
Let not woe your course impede,
Great your strength, if great your need.

Onward then to battle move;
More than conqu’rors ye shall prove:
Though opposed by many a foe,
Christian soldiers, onward go.

A Word for the Weary

“The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.”
(Isaiah 50:4)

 A Word for the Weary,

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Each of us in on a journey, a road that goes ever on and on. There are days when the journey can seem like a pleasant stroll through lush grass, the sun shining warm on your face, the wind softly at your back. Then there are days when we are weary of the journey, the road is rocky and uneven: This message is a word for the weary.

The road is long and filled with dangers, heartbreaks, disappointments and griefs. You have been let down and hurt, and, if you’re honest, you have caused the same to others.

At times it seems you walk alone, left in the dust of those who move at a quicker pace, who’ve got it all together.

At times it seems the burden is too much to carry, too much to bear. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, but even that seems like a Herculean effort.

At times it seems that the way forward is clouded and uncertain is the destination. You are tempted to give up, to just stop where you are, to quit altogether.

Don’t give up. Do not despair.

God has a word for you, a word for the weary.

His word shows the way.

His word is a light unto your path.

His word assures, encourages, and strengthens the weary.

What is this word of God? Well, it’s not a “what” but a who.

The word of God for you is the Word made flesh: Jesus Christ.

He has come to be the way, the truth and the life.

He has come to shine the light on those who dwell in darkness.

He has come to be Emmanuel, God with Us, so that we are never again alone on the journey.

He has come to give the invitation:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)

Writing this a week before Christmas, it is important for us to be reminded why He came. There is an old hymn (not really a Christmas Carol, but just as relevant) that shows us how Christ is the Word to the Weary. All who are weary: hear and come near. (Click here to listen)

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with power.
He is able, He is able;
He is willing; doubt no more.

Come ye needy, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Without money, without money
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry ’til you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

Sola Deo Gloria!