a Hymn Devotion for 20 April 2021 Anno Domini (In the Year of Our Lord), the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
Click here to listen: https://www.smallchurchmusic.com/MP3-2010/MP3-TheSabbathDay-DexterSt-PipeLC-128-CAM.mp3
“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.”
(John 20:1; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.” (John 20:11-16)
Though written with the poetic simplicity of a child, this hymn draws upon the deep springs of beauty and truth of the Resurrection of our Lord. In fact, this Easter Carol was written for children; but the innocence of a child’s mind does not required the extended arguments of learned theologians to see the simple truth. The author of the lyrics is Howard Chandler Robbins in 1929. The tune, entitled DEXTER STREET, was composed by Winfred Douglas especially for this hymn in early 1940.
THE SABBATH DAY WAS BY
The Sabbath day was by,
The Light was in the sky,
When on the first day of the week
The Prince of Life drew near.
Sad Mary, dry thine eyes,
And cease thy woeful cries;
It is no gardener, but the Lord
Who brings thee glad surprise.
Simon, thy Lord knows all;
He doth forgive thy fall,
And sends thee forth to feed the sheep
That heed the Shepherd’s call.
So did the Lord draw near
To his disciples dear,
When he came back from death and hell,
And to them did appear.
Blest were the eyes of yore
That saw their Friend once more,
And blessed we, who have not seen,
But love Him and Adore.
The Sabbath day was by, The Light was in the sky, When on the first day of the week The Prince of Life drew near. It was, indeed, early dawn on the first day of the week when Mary and the other women came to the opened Tomb; in fact, it was yet dark and the sun of Creation had yet to rise – but the Sun of Righteousness had certainly risen.
Sad Mary, dry thine eyes, And cease thy woeful cries; It is no gardener, but the Lord Who brings thee glad surprise. In my opinion, this is the most wonderfully beautiful account of all concerning the resurrection. We learn the tender heart of Mary Magdalene from other scriptural accounts, and this present occasion of the empty Tomb reveals that beautiful heart to the highest degree. When Mary braved the darkness to come to anoint the body of Christ, and found the Tomb empty, she was overcome with grief. Looking into the Tomb, and blinded by her tears, she saw the great angel there who asked her, “Woman why weepest thou – whom sleekest thou?” When Mary expressed her anguish, the angel told her, “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. Mark 16:6 The angel looked out from the Tomb at Mary and beyond. He must have smiled to see the very Person for whom Mary wept approaching her from behind. Mary had come seeking a dead body, but would soon find her ever-living Lord. Her tears blinded her, but when Jesus called her name, Mary knew that Voice just as every good lamb knows the voice of its shepherd.
Simon, thy Lord knows all; He doth forgive thy fall, And sends thee forth to feed the sheep That heed the Shepherd’s call. Yes, the Lord knows the secrets of every heart whether in sunlight or smothering darkness. Simon had boasted of his courage to stand for Christ and did, even, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prove that courage in severing the ear of one of the soldiers. But once Simon Peter was separated from the Lord, he melted like a leak in the storm. Christ had warned Peter (at Peter’s boast) that he would deny Him three times before the cock crew. Peter stood without the quarters of the high priest at the Lord’s arraignment there. He was recognized by some in attendance three times. On the last accusation, Peter denied his Lord the third time, “Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. Luke 22:60-62 This stanza of the hymn points to the misery of Simon Peter those three days in which the Lord lay in the Tomb. What did the angel at the open Tomb tell the women who came early? “7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.” Mark 16:7 This was the Lord’s way of letting Peter know that his failure of courage in denying Him was forgiven. Peter was the only disciple specifically named by the angel for that reason.
So did the Lord draw near To his disciples dear, When he came back from death and hell, And to them did appear. Our Lord appeared numerous times in His resurrection body – to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who knew Him not until the breaking of the bread; twice to the disciples in their secret resort in Jerusalem; to the disciples on the Galilean shore, and on other occasions. What joy must have filled their souls in seeing the risen Lord. Like many of us, they were slow to understand the very clear prophecies of Christ in the Law and Prophets, and the Lord’s own prophecy of His coming betrayal, death and resurrection. But when they saw His resurrected body, all things fell into place in their understanding. I often wonder how little we place our trust in the sure Word of God just as these disciples did.
Blest were the eyes of yore That saw their Friend once more, And blessed we, who have not seen, But love Him and Adore. For a surety, I tell you that we, too, shall see the same risen Savior as the men of Jerusalem and Galilee. We will not see Him “once more” but forever. We need a lesser faith than Abraham to believe since Abraham looked forward in faith to His coming; but we have the certainty of the historically recorded fact. Better than Job, we can say, as he said: “23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! 24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! 25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:23-27)