Nearer, My God, to Thee

Lyricist Sarah Adams, though a shortened life of fragile health, lived forty-three productive years. She was widely known for literary and other artistic feats. Sarah and her sister Eliza, accomplished in her own talents, were asked to aid in a new hymnal publication. As the project drew to a close, their pastor mentioned the need for a hymn to close a sermon from Genesis 28. Eliza exclaimed, “Sarah, now there’s an excellent idea… why don’t you write your own hymn about Jacob’s dream?” The same day, after considerable study of the passage, Sarah put pen to paper and soon concluded the story in verse.


In a final lecture on Sacred Song and Story, Sankey was in Washington, D.C. The congregation, including Secretary of State, John Hay, various members of Congress and Justices of the Supreme Court, sang lustily this consecration hymn. Two days later, he visited President McKinley in the White House. Exchanging pleasantries, Sankey referenced the capable singing talent of the head of state.
“I don’t know as to that, but I try to sing with the spirit and with the understanding,” the statesman replied. The next day, having traveled to New York, the President visited a congregation there; and his voice was heard with the congregation singing “Nearer, my God, to thee…” A reporter captured the event with a photograph, which appeared in the following day’s paper. In 1902, as McKinley lay dying by an assassin’s bullet, his lips were heard faintly echoing the first stanza: “Nearer, my God, to thee, Nearer to thee…”


Nearer, my God, to thee, Nearer to thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me:
Still all my song would 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!


This historical account is taken from the Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs hymnal, copyright 2018, all rights reserved.

 Melody Publications’ focus is to reawaken the melody of truth in believers' hearts and minds at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing "Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in praise and worship to our God.



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