Hymns & Songs

Near to the heart of God

Jun 2018    

June is a month of school holidays. Family travels, children’s enrichment classes, church camps, retreats, and many other activities are possible options to pause from one’s daily routine.

But beyond merely pausing, drawing near to God requires intentionality and conscious choice.

‘Near to the Heart of God’ is a hymn that reminds us about the gift of rest. Rest is both a gift and a command. Whichever form of rest we choose, may we rest near the heart of God, which the hymn writer describes as a place of comfort, joy, and peace. It is a place where we can meet Jesus, if only we bring ourselves to rest in Him.

This hymn was written out of the tragic circumstances in the life of Cleland B. McAfee (1866-1944), who suffered the loss of two infant nieces to diphtheria in 1903.

McAfee, who also composed the music, used a style typical to gospel hymns of his era where a short phrase (“near to the heart of God”), is repeated several times, allowing the crux of the message to sink into the psyche of the singer.1

Whether we feel blessed or upset, weary or refreshed, drawing “near to the heart of God” reflects an attitude of having God as the anchor of our life. When we feel blessed or refreshed, we draw near to God and give thanks. When we feel weary and upset, we draw near to God for strength.

As we take our respite this season, may our hymn and prayer be:

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee,
Near to the heart of God.

 

Near to the Heart of God (The United Methodist Hymnal, #472)
There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God;
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.

Refrain:
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee,
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God;
A place where we our Saviour meet,
Near to the heart of God. (Refrain)

There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God;
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God. (Refrain)

Words: Cleland B, McAfee, 1903
Music: McAFEE, Cleland B. McAfee, 1903

 


1 Hawn, C. Michael. “History of Hymns: Near to the Heart of God.”
https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-near-to-heart-of-god-arises-from-tragic-loss, accessed on 7 May 2018.

Judith Laoyan-Mosomos is the Director for Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.

Picture by Imagesbavaria/Bigstock.com

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