I woke this morning with this hymn going through my head. It’s an old favorite going back to the summer at Cedar Campus in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan when I met my husband. Cedar Campus is an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship training camp and mostly we sang from the organization’s Hymns, a collection I knew so well from family devotions that I could tell you number 27, number 36 or, my favorite, number 55, without looking. But that summer we also sang from a British hymnal, Christian Praise and “For All the Saints” became our theme song.
It has a lot of verses. Eight, to be precise. But oh, how exhilarating sung to the tune by Ralph Vaughn Williams. I have told my husband that I want this sung at my funeral. (Never too early to start thinking about what you want to be remembered for.)
“Eight verses?” he asked doubtfully.
“You can sing four at the beginning and four at the end,” I replied. “But don’t skip any.”
I don’t expect to die any time soon, but I share these words with you to motivate your living this week. Think about all the lovers of Jesus who have gone before us for two thousand years. Think about what God did for them across the ages, and what he can do for you today. Remember the unity that Jesus prayed for them and for us on the night he was betrayed. And when you are tempted to think the struggle against that old sin nature is more than you can handle, fix your eyes on the awesome finale of this story: men and women of every tongue and nation, streaming through the gates of heaven—you among them!—bowing before the Lord of all, Savior of your soul, the King of Glory.
Take a deep breath and remember: It’s worth it.
(If you don’t know the melody, you can hear it here.)
"For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest"
by William W. How, 1823-1897
1. For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
3. Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor's crown of gold.
4. O blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
5. And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
6. But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of Glory passes on His way.
7. From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
8. The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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