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Nearer My God to Thee

Today’s hymn is said to be based on the story of Jacob’s dream where Jacob saw the providence of God and received assurance of God’s guidance and guarding as he feared his brother Esau and was fleeing from trouble. In Jacob’s dream was a ladder that reached up to heaven. The foot of the ladder represented his human nature and the top represented his Divine nature. Jesus Christ IS the ladder, our mediator between heaven and earth. The Bible tells us there is no other way to get to heaven other than through Jesus, and although God speaks to Jacob from the head of the ladder, all things we receive from heaven come from Jesus Christ.

2Peter 1:2-4 – “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 1Timothy 2:5-6 – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Psalms 73:28 - “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” Psalms 145:18 - “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” Hebrews 10:22 - “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

God manifested Himself and His favour to Jacob while he was asleep; and like Jacob, the more we see God and His holiness, the more we see our need for fearing, trusting and drawing near to Him.

Lyrics: “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. 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. 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. 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.”

A sixth verse was later added to the hymn by Ed­ward H. Bick­er­steth, Jr. 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" is also associated with the sinking of the RMS Titanic, as some survivors later reported that the ship's string ensemble played the hymn as the vessel sank. Would to God those souls knew Jesus!

Writer: Sarah Fuller Adams


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