|That glorious song of old...|
And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way,
with painful steps and slow
look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road
and hear the angels sing!
Minister Edmund Hamilton wrote this song in 1849 with slavery in the backdrop. Sketching with his stanzas, even 165 years later we can easily envision the "forms bending low... with painful steps and slow". He called slaves to receive encouragement from heaven that better days would come quickly. At the same time, he called for justice with and peace with these lines,
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
the world has suffered long
beneath the angel strain have rolled
two-thousand years of wrong
And man at war with man hears not
the love song which they bring
O hush the noise ye men of strife
and hear the angels sing.
Minister Hamilton understood that he had to reject the false tyranny of "either, or" and with wisdom he embraced the "both, and" in this case. It would not have been enough to merely recite platitudes of comfort to slaves without a call to repentance for all who have participated in "2000 years of wrong". He was a man for his times and we are in need of his faithful echo today. May God give us grace to lay down our burdensome sins and trust the One Who says His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
This Christmas season the great challenge for so many of us will be to quiet ourselves enough to hear from heaven. Shopping, holiday travel plans, family gatherings, and church activities--yes, even church activities--can interrupt us from focusing on God's message to us. Which sounds from Babel's tower are muffling the Messiah's music? May God make us wise and willing to count "our richest gain a loss" if we don't seek FIRST His kingdom and righteousness this Christmas.