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Hymn #1 – “Nearer My God To Thee”

“Nearer, My God To Thee”

Sung by VagleBrothers, Published on Youtube Oct 23, 2013

This first CBJ hymn represents the purpose of the CBJ mission and website – helping us have a walk that is …”Nearer My God To Thee”. Color and reflect the great Hymns of the Church each week, in a hymnal of your own, order one at the bottom of this page, or print out sheet music from the internet. Enjoy!

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
There let the way appear steps unto heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me in mercy giv’n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
Then with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
Or if on joyful wing, cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upwards I fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
A sixth verse was later added to the hymn
by Edward Henry Bickersteth as follows:

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Saviour’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Themes – Dedication, Service, Death
This hymn is about the joy and comfort found in being close to God.
It is a 19th-century Christian hymn by Sarah Flower Adams, which retells the story of Jacob’s dream.
Genesis 28:11–12 can be translated as follows: “So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it … ”
The first stanza introduces the theme of the hymn, with the repeated phrase “Nearer, my God, to thee.”
The second through fourth stanzas are based on the story of Jacob and the ladder to heaven, found in Genesis 28:10-22. God’s close connection to Jacob in this story is seen as a way of relief from the darkness (st. 2) and “stony griefs” (st. 4) of his human journey.
The first and fifth stanzas bracket this story with New Testament imagery of the cross (st. 1) and the end of time (st. 5).
The last stanza was added by Edward Henry Bickersteth. It looks forward to the time when we will come to stand before God in eternal song.
Sarah Fuller Flower Adams was an English poet, an Unitarian laywoman and hymn writer.
Born 22 February 1805 in Old Harlow, Essex, England
Died 14 September 1848 (age 43) in London, England
Edward Henry Bickersteth was a bishop in the Church of England.
Born 25 January 1825 in Islington, England
Died 16 May 1906 (age 81) in London, England
She wrote thirteen hymns for a hymnal her pastor, William J. Fox, was compiling. One of these is “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” It was first published in London by Fox in his Hymns and Anthems in 1841.
The verse was written (in 1841) by Sarah Flower Adams at her home in Sunnybank, Loughton, Essex, England. It was first set to music by Miss Adams’s sister, the composer Eliza Flower.
In the United Kingdom, the hymn is usually associated with the 1861 hymn tune “Horbury” by John Bacchus Dykes, named for a village near Wakefield, England, where Mr. Dykes had found “peace and comfort”. In the rest of the world, the hymn is usually sung to the 1856 tune “Bethany” by Lowell Mason. British Methodists prefer the tune “Propior Deo” (Nearer to God), written by Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan) in 1872. Mr. Sullivan wrote a second setting of the hymn to a tune referred to as “St. Edmund”. Mr. Mason’s tune has also penetrated the British repertoire.
This hymn has been associated with several famous people and events. It is reported to have been a favorite of Queen Victoria and her son King Edward VII of England, and of U. S. President William McKinley and his successor, Theodore Roosevelt.
The hymn is well known, among other uses, as the alleged last song the band on RMS Titanic played before the ship sank.
In her own life, Sarah Adams learned that each step we take – even the difficult and painful farewells – only draws us neared to God.
Genesis 28: 10-15
Psalm 73: 28
Psalm 100
Psalm 119: 148-152
James 4:8

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