“The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.”
(Psalms 29:11; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
WONDERFUL PEACE is a hymn that is more characteristic of soulful meditation than of communal worship. Lyrics were written by Warren D. Cornell in 1889 and the musical score, by same title, was written specifically for the hymn during the same year of 1889. The hymn is not included in the 1940 Hymnal perhaps for its tone of solitude rather than of public worship; but the hymn evokes deep spiritual emotion and a drawing of the soul into the deep and silent waters of the Holy Spirit. The hymn was first sung at a Methodist Camp meeting in West Bend, Wisconsin.
Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!
What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul,
So secure that no power can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll!
I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control;
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul!
And I think when I rise to that city of peace,
Where the Anchor of peace I shall see,
That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing
In that heavenly kingdom will be:
Ah, soul! are you here without comfort and rest,
Marching down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your Friend ere the shadows grow dark;
O accept of this peace so sublime!
“Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm; In celestial strains it unceasingly falls O’er my soul like an infinite calm.” When we are fully submerged in the Spirit, we are absent from the world and present with the Lord as Paul says. That is a tremendous distance from the world to the place of God in the Spirit. The only way to fully taste the delectable flavors of the spirit is to become fully submerged therein. The depths of the spirit that is devoted to God cannot be fathomed. The beauty of this melody of the Spirit is that it transcends words – even Psalms since it is simply the words of the Psalmist set to music. Like a blanket of golden fleece, the Spirit of God often covers us with gentle love and sweet caresses and speaks to our soul, “Be Still and Know!”
“What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace, Buried deep in the heart of my soul, So secure that no power can mine it away, While the years of eternity roll!” The depths of our converted spirits is safely ensconced in the heart of God – a secure resting place indeed. Now, it is quite logical that if our heart is in Christ, that we are in possession of our great treasures which are on deposit in Heaven. No evil can enter even the most remote perimeters of the Spirit. Only those things pleasing to God will be found there. The deep into which our spirits rest in Christ has no limit, and is more secure than any known safe. In his Christmas message to the English people in 1939 as the specter of world war lay before the nation, King George VI quoted from Minnie Haskins poem, The Gate of the Year, thusly: “I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’”
“I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace, Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control; For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day, And His glory is flooding my soul!” There is no sweeter rest than that which resides in a heart of Jesus. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) The Godly soul works during the daylight hours, and sleeps during the hours of darkness. It is during those moments that the Lord keeps a particular watch of protection over us. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4) There is no danger in sleep when the night is pitch black, but there is danger in carousing about the streets in a drunken stupor when one should be home sleeping with his family. There are moments for the Christian when the vessel of his soul cannot contain the joy and glory of the Lord’s fellowship. In a manner of speaking, we were “beside ourselves” as Mark tells us of Jesus. It is better to be beside Jesus, and without ourselves, than the other way around, friends.
“And I think when I rise to that city of peace, Where the Anchor of peace I shall see, That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing In that heavenly kingdom will be:” I am reminded of the hope and faith we have in the power unseen which shall be realized in broad sight at the Last Day. “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Hebrews 6:19) Were you ever ransomed? Was your soul ever before held hostage by the power of sin and the devil? Yes, most certainly; and the Lord Jesus Christ redeemed the hostage and set you free. If you think the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral sings beautifully, just wait until your ears are graced with the glorious singing of the angels!
“Ah, soul! are you here without comfort and rest, Marching down the rough pathway of time? Make Jesus your Friend ere the shadows grow dark; O accept of this peace so sublime!” Make sure that your pathway is the pathway of our Lord for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The pathway to the abyss is not always strewn with stones. It may not be so rough, and it leads always DOWN! Instead of stones and debri, it may be strewn with fleshly delights that ruin the soul. But if our Lord is our Friend, Brother, and Savior, we need not worry about the Broad Way that leads to destruction; because traveling with Him, His feet will never tread that path. In this life, the shadows invariably lengthen as we approach the sunset of life. But in Christ, those shadows are merely variances of the beams of light that emanate from Heaven. Shadows have no force or substance. That is why we can say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) To the redeemed in Christ, death is only a shadow without power or substance.
REFRAIN: “Peace, peace, wonderful peace, Coming down from the Father above! Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray In fathomless billows of love!” Just as the unseen dews condense to form visible droplets on the morning rose, so shall the peace of God gently surround His favored Child. The Manna of God will be formed in that “peace that passeth all understanding.” The persistent tides sweep the sands of the ocean seas, but never cease in their waxing and waning. But the tides of God’s peace never wane, but grow with steady intensity as the soul is drawn into the deep of His Love which is bottomless. As we have sung that glorious old verse of the Love of God: “Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.”
Rest in Peace, friends.