114

We sang one of my favorite hymns in church last Sunday, a hymn that describes a beautiful and intimate way to feel and know God.

114. Come unto Him (Theodore E. Curtis)

I wander through the still of night, When solitude is ev’rywhere–
Alone, beneath the starry light, And yet I know that God is there.
I kneel upon the grass and pray; An answer comes without a voice.
It takes my burden all away And makes my aching heart rejoice.

When I am filled with strong desire And ask a boon of him, I see
No miracle of living fire, But what I ask flows into me.
And when the tempest rages high I feel no arm around me thrust,
But ev’ry storm goes rolling by When I repose in him my trust.

It matters not what may befall, What threat’ning hand hangs over me;
He is my rampart through it all, My refuge from mine enemy.
Come unto him all ye depressed, Ye erring souls whose eyes are dim,
Ye weary ones who long for rest. Come unto him! Come unto him!

I particularly like the second verse. It describes a way to depend on God — to find and nurture testimony and belief — that resonates with me. Despite my history of intermittent spiritual highlights, I find that my own belief is often rooted more in the threads of my everyday experiences of comfort and happiness than in the wandering, scattershot annals of my meager array of miracles. The moments that God has touched me have been real and undeniable, and at times their reality flashes through to steer me, almost painfully palpable. Yet at other times, those experiences seem cold and colorless, far removed from me, fragmented and flimsy and unable to turn aside the currents that buffet me. At those times, when the magic and music is hard to remember, I can anchor my soul in the comfort and peace of prayer and mediation, and know that it is enough.

14 comments for “114

  1. Tatiana
    January 10, 2006 at 1:44 am

    I thought I would provide a link to the song on the church website, for those less familiar with it. I hope I did this right. :-)

  2. Tatiana
    January 10, 2006 at 1:44 am

    Alas, apparently I did not. :-)

  3. Tatiana
    January 10, 2006 at 1:46 am

    Trying again to provide the link for the hymn.

  4. Harold B. Curtis
    January 10, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    An earlier hymn book had this Eliza R Snow lyric, which I recently rediscovered. The message speaks to the issue of living in a Zion society. It is a reality check for me personally and sets forth the idea that Zion is intended to be a society of improving, changing, repenting disciples who are anxiously engaged. Although Zion begins with me it is not about me, but about thee. Also suggested in the lyric is the idea that Zion is here already, that it is in the eye of the beholder and the life of the partaker.

    THINK NOT WHEN YOU GATHER TO ZION

    Think not when you gather to Zion,
    Your troubles and trials are through,
    That nothing but comfort and pleasure
    Are waiting in Zion for you:
    No, no, ’tis designed as a furnace,
    All substance, all textures to try,
    To burn all the “wood, hay, and stubble,”
    The gold from the dross purify.

    Think not when you gather to Zion,
    That all will be holy and pure;
    That fraud and deception are banished,
    And confidence wholly secure:
    No, no, for the Lord our Redeemer
    Has said that the tares with the wheat
    Must grow till the great day of burning
    Shall render the harvest complete.

    Think not when you gather to Zion,
    The saints here have nothing to do
    But to look to your personal welfare,
    And always be comforting you.
    No; those who are faithful are doing
    What they find to do with their might;
    To gather the scattered of Israel
    They labor by day and by night.

    Think not when you gather to Zion,
    The prize and the victory won.
    Think not that the warfare is ended,
    The work of salvation is done.
    No, no; for the great prince of darkness
    A ten fold exertion will make,
    When he sees you go to the fountain,
    Where freely the truth you may take.

    Lyrics: Eliza R. Snow
    Music: W E Peterson

    Harold B. Curtis

  5. D. Fletcher
    January 10, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    The thought is nice, Kaimi, though I think better expressed in Lead, Kindly Light, and others. But my big problem with #114 is the music. Those chromatic passing tones remind me too much of Gilbert and Sullivan.

  6. Mark B.
    January 10, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    D., maybe the problem is that you haven’t played it with the tremolo turned up high enough.

  7. D. Fletcher
    January 10, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    Ha, I don’t even use the tremolo. Only High Protestant Church Organ Sounds for me.

    :)

  8. Kaimi Wenger
    January 10, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    D.,

    I don’t know if it’s the Gilbert & Sullivan flavor, but I agree in part. I think the music fits the words well; but the combination just doesn’t sound hymn-like. The music matches the words in this respect, since the words are rather atypical for a green-book hymn.

    I think it works well as a special musical number. (In fact, I wrote an arrangement of 114 in a medley with I Believe in Christ, which Logan Bobo then sang for church one Sunday, and I thought it worked out quite well.)

    114 also sounds very good with a guitar. Or with a piano and a small room. But it’s not nearly as strong as an organ/congregation hymn.

  9. Tatiana
    January 11, 2006 at 5:23 am

    114 is not a hymn with which I was familiar before this post, but now I do love the words. They seem to have a maturity… like real poetry… and speak the thoughts of my heart.

    I find the music interesting as well, though I haven’t listened to it enough yet to decide what I think. Thanks for pointing this hymn out to me. I often find that other people sharing their favorites can open some door of appreciation in me that lets me see what’s so great about them and enjoy them much myself.

  10. Kage
    January 11, 2006 at 10:03 am

    When I read the lyrics that you provided on 114, I enjoyed the message quite a bit. Then I sat down at my Clavinova (my new electric piano…thank you Santa) and played through it. The melody reminded me of some early 20th century sentimental love songs from sheet music that I inherited from a grandmother that passed. The accidentals give it a very sweet and sentimental sound. I wish there was more STRUGGLE in the melody. My fave hymn like this is 129, Where can I turn for peace? The accidentals in this hymn create a little dissonance, just a enough that you remember how you felt during those searching moments. I also love the buidling drama between verses. Verse 1 is a searching question, verse 2 is still questioning, but finally the answer. Verse 3 is the testimony. I love this hymn so much. I used to just sit in the practice rooms in college and play and sing it over and over. The other thing I like about 129 is I feel you can change the tempo quite a bit to create a more meaningful “performance” 114 seems to need more a straightforward tempo.

  11. Kaimi Wenger
    January 11, 2006 at 9:30 pm

    I like 129 too, Kage — it’s a good one. The whole panoply of “solace” hymns is strong — I think my absolute favorite is “Abide with me” (_not “Abide with me, ’tis eventide”). This is an area where Mormon-Christian hymnody appeal to me. And I think you’re definitely right that in 114, the accidentals blend well with the message of the lyrics and create a nice tone.

    As for whether it needs a more straightforward tempo, I’ll both agree and disagree. As far as singing it in church, it’s pretty plain-vanilla. However, I arranged it once as a special musical number, with a flexible tempo and a nice tenor voice (Logan) to sing it as a solo. I think it worked really well. One of these days, I may try to put that down on paper, and/or get Logan to record a performance with me. (In any case, if I ever find myself in Queens, I’ll play it for you and you can decide whether or not it works.)

  12. Kage
    January 11, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    As the ward music leader of our ward, I would invite you to come and perform, as I am always in need of special musical numbers…anyone for Feb. 11th?

  13. January 12, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    Kaimi, that’s one of my favorite hymns (“Abide With Me” – non-eventide). It’s actually the first hymn I ever learned, to sing a capella at a friend’s baptism (a friend who investigated with me and joined the church a couple of months before I did). I used to lie in bed at night when I was pregnant and sing it to my son, since the only time he would be still was when I was talking or singing. Otherwise he drove me crazy turning somersaults while I lay there trying to fall asleep.

  14. D. Fletcher
    January 12, 2006 at 9:30 pm

    “Abide with Me, Fast Falls the Eventide,” is my favorite hymn, with my favorite lyric, “help of the helpless.”

    114, I just don’t like the music. Perhaps I’ll write a new tune to it.

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