He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.
He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tow’r;
I have all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His pow’r.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.
He’ll never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessed will;
A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
With His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessed face,
Where rivers of delight shall ever roll.
I bet you have sung that song all your life. It’s one of those old ones that so many sneer at nowadays. Yet this song does something very few of the new ones can. It contains a different scriptural reference in nearly every line. Take a minute and look at the song. Can you find them? Here is the shame on us—in the days when this song was written, everyone who claimed to be a Christian, even some we would not classify as “New Testament Christians,” could find them all—they knew their scriptures that well--while we sit here at best thinking, “That sounds vaguely familiar.”
Obviously I don’t have space to go over them all. Let me do the obvious ones quickly, and then we will spend two more sessions on the rest.
“I have found a friend in Jesus,” Matt 11:19.
“All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole,” 1 John 1:7; Acts 9:34.
“In sorrow he’s my comfort, in trouble he’s my stay;” you will find this sentiment all over the psalms and the prophets, too many to list.
“He tells me every care on him to roll,” 1 Pet 5:7.
“He all my griefs has taken and all my sorrows borne,” Isa 53:4.
“He’s my strong and mighty tower,” Psa 61:3.
“I have all for him forsaken and all my idols torn from my heart,” Ezek 36:25; Hos 14:3,4.
“He keeps me by his power,” 1 Pet 1:5.
“Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal,” Phil 3:14.
“He will never never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,” Heb 13:5.
“While I live by faith” Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38.
“Do his blessed will” Matt 7:21.
“With his manna he my hungry soul shall fill,” nearly two dozen verses from Exodus 16 to John 6 along with Matt 5:6.
“To see his blessed face,” Rev 22:4.
Did you catch all those? I defy you to find more than a few songs written after 1960 that have that many scriptural references in them, unless they repeat one Biblical phrase over and over, or are lifted whole cloth out of the scriptures. It’s time we learned what those old songs were about before we go throwing them out just because we think them “old” and “archaic” and “boring.” Maybe they wouldn’t be so difficult to understand if we knew God’s Word like we ought to.
And these phrases were just the easy ones, the ones you can probably figure out for yourself with no help. In the next two days, the two remaining posts on this hymn will begin to get a little more difficult. While you wait for those, though, spend a little time with the scriptures listed above and ask yourself, “Could I even begin to do the job this poet did?”