by Lawrence Downing

 

By Lawrence Downing, April 7, 2014

 

Hymns have long served to unite and inspire the Advent believers. What we as a church sing, whether by intent or default, express in subtle and direct ways our theology and practices.

 

It is my hypothesis that the hymns published in the first Adventist hymnals reflect or, perhaps in stronger terms, shaped how the first Adventists understood their community, their mission and their world. An examination of the hymns sung by Adventist congregations Sabbath after Sabbath provide a window into what beliefs and hope the singers held close. The earliest hymns are quite sectarian and express pessimism toward the world and an isolation from that world. One looks in vain for hints that community needs or humanitarian response is part of the equation. The world is a field awaiting harvesters to go forth and reap. The world was viewed as a lonely place and escape is near, even at the door. The hymns suggest that the community and its people are more to be exploited than to be nurtured, ministered to or understood.

 

A reading of these early Adventist hymns may help us understand the suspicion Adventists have toward involvement in community, except for evangelistic purposes, and the reluctance Adventists have had to engage their community and the reluctance to be involved in the political arena. The following hymns are taken from early Adventist hymnals. The name of the hymnal and its date of publication are in bold type along with other publication information, if available on the title page.

 

Hymns For God’s Peculiar People That Keep The Commandments of God And The Faith of Jesus. 1849

 

Second Advent History”

 

Lo! Another angel follows

Lo an angel loud proclaiming

With the gospel of good news.

 

Yet, a third and solemn message,

Now proclaims a final doom

All who “worship Beast or Image;”

Soon shall drink the wrath of God:

Without mixture

Mercy now no longer pleads.

 

Here they are, who now are waiting,

And have patience to endure;

While the Dragon’s hosts are raging

Those confide in God secure:

Faith of Jesus;

And COMMANDMENTS, keep them pure.

 

The Seal”

 

Behold a light appears,

The holy sabbath (sic) day,

And magnified so clear,

That none may need to stray;

Though small at first, as sun beam’s ray,

Its strength ascends to perfect day.

 

It is the message clear

Ascending from the east,

God’s servants now appear

Who will not worshipBEAST;”

 

Four angels hold the winds reveal’d

Until God’s servants all are seal’d

The Sabbath is a sign,

A mark which all may see,

 

And sure will draw a line

When servants all are seal’d

And while destruction’s in the land

This mark will guard the waiting band.

 

Restitution”

 

Oh, spare thy people, Lord,

and bring them full salvation;

Fulfill they faithful word,

 

Rescue the sleeping nation;

Thou voice of God should from on high;

The signal give for reaping;

 

Come thou and reap the harvest dry;

Oh, gather all the sleeping:

Spare now the “remnant” Lord

 

The foe doth yet pursue them.

Oh, for thy blessed word,

Do thou with strength renew them.

 

Armageddon”

 

Ripe is the vintage of the earth;

Its clustering grapes are round and full;

And vengeance, vengeance bursts to birth,

Sudden and irresistible!

Messiah comes to tread amain, (sic)

The wine-press of the battle-plain

 

The cry is up, the strife begun,

The struggle of the mighty ones;

And Armageddon’s day comes on,

The carnival of Slaughter’s sons;

War lifts his helmet to his brow:

O God, protect thy people now!

 

This World Is Not My Home”

 

Farewell! farewell! to all below,

My Jesus calls and I must go:

I’ll launch my boat upon the sea,

This land is not the land for me.

This world is not my home: (4 X repeated) (Sic)

 

Farewell! my friends! I’ll not stay here—

The home I seek will soon appear;

Where Christ is not I cannot be;

This land is not the land for me

This world is not my home, &c.

 

I’m A Traveler”

 

I’m a lonely trav’ller here,

Weary, opprest;

But my journey’s end is near,

Soon I shall rest.

Dark and dreary is the way,

Toiling I’ve come—

Ask me not with you to stay—

Yonder’s my home.

 

The Jubilee Prayer”

 

We are in the time of waiting;

Soon we shall behold our Lord,

Wafted far away from sorrow,

To receive our rich reward.

Keep us, Lord, till thine appearing,

Pure, unspotted from the world;

Let thy Holy Spirit cheer us,

Till thy banner is unfurl’d

 

Here Is No Rest”

 

Here, o’er the earth as a stranger I roam,

Here is no rest—is no rest;

Here as a pilgrim I wander alone,

Yet I am blest—I am blest

 

CHORUS [One of 4—all different]

Let them revile me, and scoff at my name,

Laugh at my weeping—endeavor to shame;

I will go forward, for this is my theme;

There, there is rest—there is rest

 

Here are afflictions and trials severe;

Here is no rest—is no rest;…

 

This world of cares is a wilderness state,

Here is no rest—is no rest;

Here I must bear from the world all its hate—

Yet I am blest—I am blest.

 

The Little Flock”

 

How happy are the little flock,

Who, safe beneath their guardian Rock,

In all commotions rest;

When war’s and tumult’s waves run high,

Unmov’d above the storm they lie,

And lodge in Jesus’ breast

 

Such happiness O Lord, have we,

By mercy gather’d into thee,

Before the floods descend;

And while the bursting cloud comes down,

We mark the vengeful day begun,

And calmly wait the end.

 

The plague, and dearth, and din of war,

Our saviour’s (sic) swift approach declare,

And bid our hearts arise;

Earth’s basis shook, confirms our hope;

Its cities’ fall but lifts us up,

To meet thee in the skies.

 

A Pilgrim And A Stranger”

 

1. I’m a pilgrim and I’m a stranger;

I can tarry, I can tarry, but a night;

Do not detain me, for I am going

To where the fountains are ever flowing,

I’m a pilgrim and I’m a stranger, &c.

 

2. There the glory is ever shining!

O, my longing heart, my longing heart is there;

Here in this country so dark and dreary,

I long have wander’d forlorn and weary.

 

4. Farwell, dreary earth, by sin so blighted,

In immortal beauty soon you’ll be arrayed!

He who has form’d thee, will soon restore thee!

And then thy dread curse shall never more be:

I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger,

Till thy rest shall end the weary pilgrim night.

 

 

Hymns for Second Advent Believers Who Observe the Sabbath of the Lord, 1852.

 

Rochester, N. Y.
Published by James White
 

139 hymns; 108 pages
Supplement: 36; 30 pages
No credits listed

 

Come To Reign”

 

List again;–the low earth sigheth,

And the blood of martyrs crieth

From its bosom, where there lieth

Millions upon millions slain:

“Lord, how long, ere thy word given,

All the wicked shall be driven

From the earth by bolts of heaven?

Jesus come—oh! come to reign.”

 

Kingdoms now are reeling, falling,

Nations lie in woe appalling,

On their sages vainly calling

All these wonders to explain;

While the slain around are lying,

God’s own little flock are sighing,

And in secret places crying,

“Jesus come—Oh! come to reign.”

 

Here the wicked live securely,

Of to-morrow boasting surely,

While from those wh’re walking purely

They extort dishonest gain;

Yea, the meek are burden’d, driven;

Want and care to them are given,

But they lift the cry to heaven,

“Jesus come—Oh! come to reign.”

 

Despised Pilgrims”

 

1. WHAT poor despised company

Of travelers are these,

Who walk in yonder narrow way,

Along the rugged maze?

 

2. Ah, these are of a royal line,

All children of a King….

 

3. Why do they then appear so mean,

and why so much despised?

Because of their rich robes unseen,

The world is not appriz’d

 

4. Why do they shun the pleasing path,

That worldlings love so well?

Because that is the road to death,

The open road to hell

 

5. What, is there then no other road

To Salem’s happy ground?

Christ is the only way to God,

No other can be found.

 

The Exile”

 

There is a land, a better land than this—

There’s my home, there’s my home!

A land of pure, unbounded, perfect bliss—

There’s my home, there’s my home;

A captive on this desert shore,

I long to count my exile o’er,

And be where sorrows come no more:

There’s my home, there’s my home.

 

Far, far I am from my own happy shore—

I would go, I would go.

But yet my days of exile are not o’er:—

I would go, I would go.

I would not stay though earth were mine;

Though all its treasures for me shine,

A captive here I still should pine—

I would go, I would go.

 

I Walk Alone”

 

1. I WALK a lonely pilgrim here

O’er life’s uneven way;

But my aching heart keeps hoping on

For the bright, the better day.

 

2. I walk alone and oft am sad,

And falls the briny tear;

My heart is grieved with trials sore,

And pressed with many a care.

 

 

A True Witness”

 

1. SHALL I, for fear of feeble man,

The Spirit’s course in me restrain?

Or, undismay’d in deed and word,

Be a true witness for my Lord?

 

2. Aw’d by a mortal’s frown, shall I

Conceal the word of God Most High?

How then before thee shall a dare

To stand, or how than anger bear?

 

3. Shall I, to sooth the unholy throng,

Soften thy truth, or smooth my tongue,

To gain earth’s gilded toys, or flee

The cross endur’d, my Lord, by thee?

 

4. What then is he whose scorn I dread?

Whose wrath or hate makes me afraid?

A man! An heir of death! A slave

To sin! A bubble on the wave!

 

Supplement
(No titles are listed for these hymns.)

 

Hymn 8

 

OUR bondage it will end by and by, when he comes

Our bondage it will end when he comes,

And from Egypt’s yoke set free,

Hail the glorious jubilee,

And to glory we’ll return by and by when he comes,

And to glory we’ll return when he comes.

 

Though our enemies are strong, we’ll go on,

Though our hearts do sometimes fear,

Lo Israel’s God is near,

And the fiery pillar moves, we’ll go on, &c.

 

Hymn 12

 

OH, no, we cannot sing our songs,

Our glad and cheerful lays;

Our sorrowing harps refuse their strings,

To Zion’s joyful strains.

They bid us be in mirthful mood,

And dry these tears so sad;

But Judah’s hearths are desolate

And how can we be glad?

 

Hymn 30

 

I LOVE this pure religion,

Soldiers of the jubilee;

I love this pure religion,

Soldiers of the cross.

 

Remember me while toiling here,

Soldiers of the jubilee

Remember me while toiling here,

Soldiers of the cross.

 

We’ll preach a coming Saviour,

Soldiers of the jubilee;

We’ll preach a coming Saviour,

Soldiers of the cross.

 

Hymns and Tunes for those who keep the Commandments of God and the Faith of Jesus, 1869.

 

Steam Press of the Seventh-Day Adventist Publishing Association
Battle Creek, Michigan

Pages: 416
Hymns not numbered
No Music
No credits

 

REPENTANCE”

 

No. 93 S. M. [Slow Meter]

 

DID Christ o’er sinners weep,

And shall our cheeks be dry?

Let floods of penitential grief

Burst forth from every eye.

 

The Son of God in tears

The wond’ring angels see;

Be thou astonished, O my soul,

He shed those tears for thee.

 

Social Worship”

No. 452 7 s & 6 s.

 

1. HOW long, O Lord our Saviour, (sic)

Wilt thou remain away!

Our hearts are growing weary

Of they so long delay.

Oh! when shall come the moment

When, brighter far than morn,

The sunshine of thy glory

Shall on thy people dawn.

 

2. How long, O gracious Master,

Wilt thou thy household leave?

So long hast thou now tarried,

Few thy return believe.

Immersed in sloth and folly,

Thy servants, Lord, we see;

And few of us stand ready

With joy to welcome thee.

 

The Seventh-Day (sic) Adventist Hymn and Tune Book For Use in Divine Worship, 1886.

 

Published by the General Conference

Battle Creek, Michigan.

Review & Herald Publishing House

Oakland, CA.:

Pacific Press

Credits Given

Some Music supplied

Hymns: 1413; Pages: 620

 

No. 381

 

1. GOD’S holy law, transgressed,

Speaks nothing but despair;

Burdened with guilt, with grief oppressed,

We find no comfort there.

 

2. Not all our groans and tears,

Nor works which we have done,

Nor vows, nor promises, nor prayers,

can e’er for sin atone.

 

3. Relief alone is found

In Jesus’ precious blood;

‘Tis this that heals the mortal wound,

And reconciles to God.

 

4. High lifted on the cross,

The spotless Victim dies

This is salvation’s only source

Whence all our hopes arise.

 

No. 1023

 

1. Let party names no more

The Christian world o’erspread;

Gentile and Jew, and bond and free,

Are one in Christ, their Head.

 

2. Among the saints on earth

Let mutual love be found

Heirs of the same inheritance

With mutual blessings crowned.

 

3. Thus will the church below

Resemble that above

Where streams of pleasure ever flow,

And every heart is love.

 

4. And till we reach that place,

Our daily prayer shall be

That we may dwell before thee Lord

In love and unity.

 

No. 1032

 

“Go, preach my gospel,” saith the Lord,

Bid the whole world my grace receive;

He shall be saved who trusts my word,

And they condemned who disbelieve.

 

No. 1035

 

Ye Christian heralds! go, proclaim

Salvation through Immanuel’s name,

To distant climes the tidings bear,

And plant the Rose of Sharon there.

 

No. 1038

 

Go, messenger of peace and love,

To people plunged in shades of night;

Like angels sent from fields above

Be thine to shed celestial light.

 

Go to the hungry, food impart;

To paths of peace the wanderer guide;

And lead the thirsty, panting heart,

Where streams of living water glide.

 

O, faint not in the day of toil,

When harvest waits the reaper’s hand,

Go gather in the glorious spoil

And joyous in his presence stand.

 

No. 1042

 

Convert and send forth more,

To spread thy truth abroad;

And let them speak thy word of power,

As workers with their God.

 

No. 1048

 

The vineyard of the Lord

Before his laborers lies,

And lo! we see the last reward

Which waits us in the sky.

 

No. 1053

 

Ho! Reaper’s of life’s harvest,

Why stand with rusty blade,

Until the night draws round thee,

And day begins to fade?

 

Thrust in your sharpened sickle,

And gather in the grain;

The night is fast approaching,

And soon will come again.

 

The Master calls for reapers,

And shall he call in vain?

Shall sheaves lie there ungathered,

And waste upon the plain?

 

No. 1058

 

In the vineyard of our father

Daily work we find to do;

Scattered gleanings we may gather,

Through we are but young and few;

Little clusters, little clusters

Help to fill the garners too.

 

No. 1068

 

Brother, you may work for Jesus;

God has given you a place

In some portion of his vineyard,

And will give sustaining grace.

 

He has bidden you to labor

And has promised a reward—

Even joy and life eternal

In the kingdom of your Lord.

 

Christ in Song, 1908

 

Pages: 574

Copyright, 1908, F. E. Belden. (Revised and Enlarged)

 

No. 817 Our Exiled Fathers (Rev. Leonard Bacon)

 

O god beneath thy guiding hand, Our exiled fathers crossed the sea; and when they trod the wintry strand, With pray’r and psalm they worshiped thee.

 

Truth, freedom, justice, faith in God, Come with those exiles o’er the waves; And where their pilgrim feet have trod, The God they trusted guards their graves.

 

And here thy name, O God of love, May we, their children, still adore, Till these eternal hills remove, And spring adorns the earth no more.

 

N. 818 Brotherhood of Men (J. S. Dwight)

 

God bless our native land! May Heaven’s protecting hand Still [guard (sic) our shore. May peace her pow’r extend, Foe be transformed to friend, And all our rights depend On war no more.

 

May just and righteous laws Uphold the public cause, And bless our name; Home of the brave and free, Stronghold of Liberty, We pray that still on thee May rest no stain.

 

And not this land alone, But by they mercies known From shore to shore; O that all men would see That they should brothers be, And form one family, Thy wide world o’er!

 

No. 809 What Is the Chaff? (I. Watts)

 

What is the chaff, the word of man, When set against the wheat? Can it a dying soul sustain, Like that immortal meat?

 

Thy word, O God, with heav’nly bread Thy children doth supply; And those who by thee are fed, Their souls shall never die. [Bold & Underline mine]

 

No. 819 Let us Work Too (F. E. Beldon)

 

The Lord worketh, let us work too; In his vineyard there’s much to do,

And Souls perish for need of you: The Lord worketh, let us work too.

 

They world moveth, let us move too, The sun’s glory that we may view. From night turning to day-dawn new: the world moveth, let us move too.

 

The wrong speaketh, let us seak too; The worst error is bright with dew: Shall truth slumber the whole day thro? The wrong speaketh, let us speak too.

 

The Christ liveth, let us live too, From death waking, his work to do,

With hearts loving and pure and true: The Christ liveth, let us live too.

 

No. 813 Above These Shades (Anne Steele)

 

O could our thoughts and wishes fly, above these gloomy shades; To those bright worlds beyond the sky, Where sorrow ne’er invades!

 

There, joys unseen by mortal eyes, or reason’s feeble ray,

In ever blooming prospect rise, Exposed to no decay

 

No. 842 A Stranger Here (Thos. R. Taylor)

 

I’m but a stranger here, Heav’n is my home;

Earth is a desert drear, Heav’n is my home; Danger and sorrow stand Round me on ev’ry hand, Heav’n is my Fatherland, Heaven is my home.

 

No. 561 Bring Them In (A. Thomas)

 

Hark! ‘tis the shepherd’s voice I hear, Out in the desert dark and drear, Calling the sheep who’ve gone astray, Far from the Shepherd’s fold away. Bring them in, Bring them in, Bring them in from the fields of sin; bring them in, Bring them in, bring the wanderers to Jesus.

 

Out in the desert hear their cry, Out on the mountain wild and high, hark! ’tis the Master speaks to thee, “Go, find my sheep where’e they be.

 

No. 596 Buy Up the Opportunity (J. R. Clements)

 

Buy up the opportunity, O Christian, buy today! For Heaven’s ageless mansions buy, buy treasures while you may.

 

Buy up the opportunity, It may not long remain! The evil hosts are bidding, too, These precious souls to gain.

 

Buy up the opportunity, Pay any price to win!

With Heaven’s legions watching you, To falter will be sin.

 

Buy up the opportunity, At home; in lands afar; Go quickly! Find the jewels rare,– each soul a glowing star.

 

Chorus: Buy up the opportunity, The souls from whom Christ died, Buy up the opportunity, Buy for the Crucified.

 

No. 570 Hold On (J. P. Ellis)

 

If your hand’s on the plow, hold on, hold on; Tho’ the soil may be sterile and hard, The plowshare will make the fallow ground break, And the plowman will have his reward; Earth’s bosom will sparkle with emerald green, And its grain will be golden king; The reapers will come, with loud “Harvest Home,” and the gleaners will joyfully sing.

 

No. 718 The World Is Very Evil (J. Neale)

 

The world is very evil, The times are waxing late; Be sober and keep vigil; The Judge is at the gate,—The judge who comes in mercy, The Judge who comes in

Might,—Who comes to end the evil, Who comes to crown the right.

 

 

Even a cursory examination of the early Adventist hymnals and the hymns each contains provides evidence that ideas and emphasis change. The earliest hymns expressed an antipathy toward the world and a sense of isolation and impermanence. The world was not their home and they could not wait to leave it. One looks in vain for admonitions to go out into that world and save the lost nor is there an acknowledgment of God’s love for the world nor of God’s grace extended to the people of this world. Later hymnals have a quite different emphasis. A harvest awaits. Reapers are needed. Go out and work! Expressions of God’s mercy and grace are common. The world is still evil, as holds the title of the hymn above, but other hymns serve as a counter.

 

Note that now-and-again the hymns express a point of theology that today would not fly. See Hymns and Tunes # 809 written by Isaac Watts, “…Their souls shall never die.”

 

I hope you enjoyed looking through these hymns that our pioneers sang on a Sabbath morning. We can imagine ourselves joining in with James White or F. E. Beldon as they led the early Advent believers in lifting their voices to the Lord.