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Sunday, December 30, 2018 pm                                               Song Index

Sermons from Songs
Be With Me Lord
#27, Sacred Selections

     Tonight we want to examine another song that we occasionally sing. 

This particular song was written by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960) who was a Methodist.  The song was first published in 1935.  He was a prolific song text writer.  He would write the poetry or prose and then have others put it to music.  The song we are noting was composed by Lloyd Otis Sanderson (1902-1992), who composed numerous songs for the Gospel Advocate company.   While Sanderson and Chisholm never met in person, they corresponded regularly and together they produced several songs including Bring Christ your Broken Life, All things Work Together For Good and A New Creature (#590 in our book).  Be with Me Lord was probably their most known and popular work together. 

Concerning this song, in 1934, it has an interesting history.  In his autobiographical sketch, The Lord Has Been Mindful of Me, Sanderson spoke of this song.  He noted that about 2 am one Tuesday evening, he awoke with a melody in mind.  He got up and wrote it down.  It was a difficult melody and he struggled to put words to it.  8 days later, he receives a letter from Chisolm, who that same night that he received the melody, wrote the poem that would become our song.  When Sanderson read the poem it fit perfectly with the melody he had developed.  Together, they are probably the most noted hymn from this pair and the hymn we want to examine tonight.  

One interesting note about the relationship between Chisholm and Sanderson.  Sanderson at first was a Methodist, but was converted at the age of 22.  Trying to influence others, he wrote Chisholm and asked him to compose a poem based on Romans 6:3-18.  The words to “Buried with Christ” were the result.  Of this, Sanderson wrote, I do not see how a true Methodist could write such meaningful words.[1]

This song is a reminder to us that we need our Lord to be with us at all times.  This is a song that is good to consider when we are going through various trials or challenging times.  It is a song with a recurring theme throughout of trusting Him in the trying times of life.  I mention this because many of the observations and passages mentioned in this study could be strategically placed in various locations of this hymn.

 I.                     Vs. 1 – I Cannot Live Without Thee

a.       Be with me Lord – as we read the New Testament, it becomes clear that we have promises that our Lord will be with us, IF…  we keep my commandments
Matthew 28:20 – I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Numerous passages that speak of God, the Spirit, Christ and His word dwelling within us (influence).
Philippians 4:6-7 – when Paul tells us to be anxious for nothing but to pray, the peace of God will rule in our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 
We may not understand exactly how our Lord is with us, but we can with confidence know He is there as we follow Him.  This song is a reminder of His presence.

b.       I cannot live without Thee - Are we truly dependent on Him?
Paul noted his need for the Lord often – Philippians 3:7-11.
Jesus Himself said, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world…?” Matthew 16:26

c.        I dare not try to take one step alone – He needs to be an influence everywhere and at all times and in all areas of our lives – Jeremiah 10:23, it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.
Luke 18:22 – the rich, young ruler lacked that “one thing”.  Luke 14:33 – forsake all he has…

d.       I cannot bear the loads of life unaided – We all have burdens. Who do we turn to as we deal with them? Matthew 11:28-30. 
1 Peter 5:6-7 calls for us to cast all our cares (burdens) on Him. 

e.       I need Thy strength to lean myself upon – Philippians 4:13, Ephesians 3:14-16 – let us never forget that we need Him always.

 II.                   Vs. 2 – If dangers threaten – trusting Him

a.       Be with me Lord, and then if dangers threaten – learning to trust God and to not fear man.  Do not fear him who destroys the body – Matthew 10:28

b.       If storms of trials burst above my head, If leashing seas leap everywhere about me – storms would indicate times of trouble.  The song uses the word “trials” -   All around us just reminds us that we are living in “hostile territory”.  The Bible reminds us of the trials we face – 1 Peter 4:12 – do not think it strange concerning the fiery trials…, 2 Timothy 3:12 – all who desire to live godly…, Acts 14:21-22 – we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of heaven, etc.

c.        They cannot harm or make my heart afraid -
we may face trials in this life, but with God on our side, we can endure and with faith face them. Recall when Jesus calmed the stormy seas for His apostles – Matthew 8:23-27 - If He can do that, He can help to calm our storms. John 16:33 – be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
The question is, do we really trust Him?
Romans 8:31 – if God be for us, who can be against us?
Hebrews 13:5-6, Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

 III.                 Vs. 3 – No other gift or blessing – His constant presence

a.       Be with me Lord, no other gift or blessing Thou couldst bestow could with this one compare – God abiding with us is a gift.
God through His grace made reconciliation available through the blood of Jesus – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.  Romans 5:1-2 notes that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ through whom we have access by faith into His grace.
And there is no greater gift than knowing that He is with us.  James 1:17 – every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

b.       A constant sense of Thy abiding presence, where-er I am, to feel that Thou art near -
Again, we are reminded that God is with us!
How do we know when He is with us? People are searching for some sort of internal feeling or emotional experience (similar to that of the household of Cornelius in Acts 10:44) which is not what we are going to find.  Those occasions were unique and served a purpose that does not apply to us.
So HOW do we know He is with us? We should approach this objectively
- When we know Him – do we know Him as we ought to.  1 John 2:3-5 – we can know that we are in Him, when we keep His commandments.  Also 1 John 324.
- By believing in His word – Hebrews 11:6
- When we are obedient to Him – 1 John 1:5-7 – when we are walking in the light in fellowship with Him
- Through our love for Him – 1 John 4:7-8, John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…
- Through faith – when our faith is strong, e.g. we are trusting Him – we know He is there.  Realize that if we are doing as we ought to, He IS there.  I will never leave you, nor forsake You – Hebrews 13:5
- Through our purity – 1 John 3:1-3.
Again, I will readily admit, I do not FULLY understand exactly how God is present, but I am confident it not a mere emotional or subjective feeling.  CONSIDER: What about those times when we are doing the right thing, and yet we feel nothing?  Think of David – Psalm 22:1-2, Job desiring an audience with God, etc.

 IV.                 Vs. 4 – in times of sorrow and loneliness

a.       Be with me Lord, when loneliness o’er takes me, When I must weep amid the fires of pain - in this life we face times of loneliness.  We feel alone, maybe even in the midst of a crowd.  It could be the fact that we feel no one understands what we are facing, or we feel that they don’t care, or perhaps we have lost someone very close to us.
Maybe we are by ourselves and we want company.
AND there are times when we are filled with sorrows for multitudes of reasons
During those times, when we are walking with Him, we can know that we are not alone.
2 Timothy 4:17 – Paul noted that even when abandoned, he was not alone.

NOTE: The worst loneliness and sorrow we can feel is that the Lord is not with us.  While it is possible for Him to no longer be with us, it is not because He is not where He belongs, but could it be that we have wandered away from Him (drifted away – Hebrews 2:1-2)?  But He IS there when we are doing as we ought to.

b.       And when shall come the hour of my departure for worlds unknown, O Lord be with me then.
The time of my departure – 2 Timothy 4:6-8 – are we prepared?  2 Timothy 1:12 – I know whom I have believed
The ultimate point of this song, is to know that there is more than just the troubles and sorrows of this life.  If we keep our eyes on the prize, we can take great comfort, even in times of trials, loneliness and sorrows. 
Consider 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul noted that we should not sorrow as those who have no hope – we have something better.

 

And thus, we have examined another song that we sing occasionally.  As you consider these words, is the Lord really with you?  If not, how can we help?

  

Here’s the excerpt from Sanderson’s autobiography.  It can be found in its entirerty at the link below. “’Be With Me, Lord’ is perhaps my most popular hymn. In Springfield, in 1934, I was working on my first hymnal for the Gospel Advocate Co. At about 2 a.m. one Tuesday a melody came to mind. I found it difficult to get rid of it.   So I stopped and wrote it down, lest I forget. Even then, I kept seeing or sensing the harmony, which bothered my work; so I turned and wrote it out completely. It is a rare meter - 11 notes in a phrase, 10 in the next, 11 in the third, and again 10 in the fourth. I couldn't come up with or find words to fit it. About eight days passed when I received a letter from Thomas O. Chisholm, who had long written words for me. He wrote that he had retired on the same night I was working, and a theme for a poem seemed to command his attention. Finally after midnight of that same Tuesday, he got up and wrote out the poem. He was sending it to me to see what I thought of it. It was an exact fit for my music. I bought the poem, and the twain have been together since.” (Sanderson)[2]