Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bi-Weekly Hymn Spotlight: O Thou in Whose Presence

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O Thou in Whose Presence
by
Joseph Swain


O Thou in whose presence my soul takes delight,
On whom in affliction I call,
My comfort by day, and my song in the night,
My hope, my salvation, my all.

Where dost Thou at noontide resort with Thy sheep,
To feed on the pastures of love?
Say, why in the valley of death should I weep,
Or alone in the wilderness rove?

O, why should I wander an alien from Thee,
And cry in the desert for bread?
Thy foes will rejoice when my sorrows they see,
And smile at the tears I have shed.

He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for His word;
He speaks, and eternity, filled with His voice,
Re-echoes the praise of her Lord.

Dear Shepherd, I hear and will follow Thy call;
I know the sweet sound of Thy voice.
Restore and defend me, for Thou art my All,
And in Thee I will ever rejoice.


Brief Synopsis: 

This hymn, written by British pastor Joseph Swain, came to my attention while I was listening to a Fernando Ortega recording of the song. The simple, heartfelt, yet deeply Scriptural lyrics ministered to me at the time, and the almost-hauntingly beautiful poetic melody hushed my spirit and spoke quiet and grace to me. Joseph Swain lived only a short while, dying at age 35 after a brief period of ministry. Swain, an orphan, became converted under the ministry of the preacher John Rippon, and subsequently began to preach the Gospel. Swain died on April 16th, 1796, but his rich, heartfelt and Spirit-led words of truth and encouragement continue to go forward through this beautiful hymn, among other lesser-known hymns and poetry that he wrote during his brief life. Interestingly, his grave stands beside the graves of William Blake and Daniel DeFoe... but his soul rests with the Eternal Father of his heart. 

How is this hymn meaningful to believers, past and present?

The Lord ministered to me through this hymn during a very difficult time that my family experienced in the years just before I was married. My father abandoned our family, leaving us in a very precarious financial situation. The Lord mercifully sustained us during that time, providing for us in unexpected ways and enabling my sister and me to work together to help support the family.  It was a time of darkness and of sorrow, but also a time of light -- light through the darkness, light that whispered to us of hope. 

My sister and I sang this hymn a-cappella for a church service and our voices joined together as we held onto the Lord's promises by faith in the darkness. 

The Lord brings us through times of intense darkness, persecution and pain, so that we will see Him and cling to Him. I look back now at that time, and I am grateful for it. He taught me things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light. He taught me to be sensitive to the pain of those around me. He taught me to trust Him in the darkness, trust Him Who is the Light, and our "song in the night." 


Fernando Ortega's recording of this hymn from his CD, This Bright Hour:






Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Swain_(poet)


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27 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Sara; thank you for stopping by! :-)

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  2. I miss the days of singing with my sister, but she's in Alaska, and I'm in Maine. You have introduced me to a hymn today that I've never sung or even heard. Thank you for this gift!

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    1. You're welcome, Michele; God bless you! :-)

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  3. I love how you have this laid out and really enjoyed listening to it. What a great idea to give Hymns new life!

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    1. Heather, I'm so glad that you enjoyed it; the Lord bless you!

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  4. I have never heard this sung in church that I can recall, but I loved it on an old Hale and Wilder record. Such deep and beauitful words.

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    1. Yes, Barbara; I think so, too! Some of the hymns that have gotten "buried" over the years are so beautiful. Thank you for stopping by. :-)

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  5. What a beautiful hymn and a beautiful story of how it spoke hope into your life!

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    1. Yes; I think it is a beautiful hymn, too! I'm so grateful for how the Lord has used it to minister to me. God bless you!

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  6. Bekki, Such a beautiful hymn! These certainly are ministering lyrics and Ortega's rendition absolutely beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing how the Lord ministered to you through this hymn, and sharing the hymn with us so that we could be encouraged as well.

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    1. You're welcome, Karen! It has been such a blessing to me as the Holy Spirit used it in my life.The Lord bless you, dear Karen.

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  7. This is such a beautiful testimony. It is amazing how God is always speaking to us and ministering to us. I love old hymns and their timeless ability to speak his love. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Yes, Abby; truly, He is so kind to us. I love the old hymns, too! They are so full of beauty and truth. The Lord bless you, Abby. :-)

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  8. What a beautiful, divine treat today! I love this hymn, it is such a part of our lives but I never knew much about it or the songwriter..thank you for this special blog today. And it really touched me how much it meant to your and your sis and how God carried you through trials. What a blessing!!

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    1. You're welcome, Kathy! It has been such a blessing in my life. The Lord is faithful. I am glad that you stopped here; may God bless you!

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  9. Bekki, what a beautiful hymn! Thank you for sharing your heart-felt story of its meaning in your life. Many blessings to you ❤️

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    1. You're welcome, Beth! Blessings to you, also! :-)

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  10. What a beautiful hymn. I've never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing it and your story. God is good.

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    1. Yes, truly, He is! He has been so merciful to me. Thank you for stopping over, Cathy--have a blessed week. :-)

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  11. Good morning! How serendipitous that I should 'happen' to find your blog this morning. I'm linking up with Lyli over at Thought Provoking Thursday and was intrigued by your blog post title. I too love this hymn by Fernando Ortega--one of my favorites.
    I noticed you have a devotional for women about surrender--'surrender' is my word for the year...and probably next year, too! I'll be back to check it out.
    And to find a blog header with a Lilias Trotter quote at the top--well. Wow. I was recently introduced to her and have been reading her biography. May God bless you today

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    1. Jody, I love listening to Fernando Ortega sing this song, too--he has brought some of the older hymns back to life and I am so grateful for that.

      Yes, surrender is definitely a continual process. Just when I think I am "surrendered," I realize how much I still am holding onto! Oh, thank God for His grace and His patience with me! He is truly a merciful Father.

      I was introduced to Lilias Trotter's writings through reading Elisabeth Elliot! Are you reading the biography by Miriam Huffman-Rockness? It is a beautiful, beautiful book. You will really enjoy it!

      The Lord bless you, also, Jody!

      Oh, you can turn off the background music by clicking on the button in the middle in the top left-hand corner! I had to ask my husband! :-)

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  12. p.s. you might want to add a button at the top of your blog for people to click off the background music. I couldn't listen to the Fernando Ortega recording because they both played at the same time....:-)

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  13. Incredible song, beautiful lyrics and moving story behind it. Thanks, lady!

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    1. You're welcome, Sharita; I'm glad that you enjoyed it! Have a blessed week! :-)

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  14. Awww, so very touching... and such a beautiful hymn.

    It's amazing how certain songs and hymns can carry us through seasons in our lives.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

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    1. You're welcome, Jennifer! Have a blessed Thanksgiving! :-)

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