Nearer My God to Thee

pic497__habwqtIt happens every Sunday and Wednesday: a song number is called and as we turn to the correct page we have an immediate reaction of either excitement or sighing. Usually the songs that warrant the sighs are the older ones, the slow ones, and the ones with words such as “thy, thee, thou, and thine.” The newer ones are so much more exciting, right? They’re engaging and they have catchy lyrics and different parts. They’re usually faster and they’re so much more fun to sing than the old ones, right?
“Nearer my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en tho’ 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.

Tho’ like a 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,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee.

Or, if on joyful wing, Cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I fly;
Still all my song shall be, Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee.”

This song is called “Nearer my God to Thee.” You may have sung it at church before. Something you may not know about this song is that Christians have been singing it for centuries and it’s deeply rooted in American culture as well. A few fast facts about this song are that it was played by the Confederate army after the massacre at Gettysburg during the Civil War. When CBS premiered their network, Ted Turner was quoted as saying, “We won’t be signing off until the world ends. We’ll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event…. and when the end of the world comes, we’ll play ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ before we sign off.” Also, as legend tells it, the band on the RMS Titanic played this song as the ship’s passengers prepared for their impending doom.

But what does the song mean to us? Go ahead and reread the lyrics. I’m convinced that there’s not a song in our books that has such beautiful words. My favorite line is “Yet in my dreams I’d be Nearer, my God, to Thee.” It reflects the words of David in Psalms 73:27-28, “For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.” What a mantra for us to adopt in our everyday lives. This should be the thought that drives us every day – that we be nearer to God and the nearness of God is our good. Write it on a post-it note and stick it on your car dash, get an expo marker and write it on your bathroom mirror, do whatever it takes to constantly be reminded of this beautiful phrase.

Next time you turn to a song that might be older or you feel like you may have sung it a million times, read the lyrics again. Don’t be frustrated that there’s not ten different parts to sing-sometimes those make it harder to focus on the true meaning of the song, which is our whole reason for singing praises to begin with. Make it your mission to focus on the lyrics of any song you turn to. Maybe next time you sing this song you can think of the thousands of saints who have gone on before you who have sang those same lyrics throughout major events in our nation’s history and hopefully these lyrics will inspire you to draw nearer to God.

Holly Beth Pannell
About Holly Beth Pannell 11 Articles
Holly Pannell is a Management Information Systems major at the University of Oklahoma. She attends church at the Penn South Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, OK. She works at the University of Oklahoma in the admissions office and likes being in the middle of the action at her college. She is the oldest of three—all girl—and live in Norman, OK. She enjoys dinner with friends, Sooner football, John Green books, following politics, late night bowls of cereal, and The Office reruns.

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