A couple of years ago I arranged this hymn as a gift for my mother-in-law’s birthday. When it was suggested for my list of hymns for this year, I debated whether I should re-arrange it or just use the one I had already done. It felt strange to change something that I had given as a gift, so this is the lone repeat for this year of song! It also happens to be her birthday this week, so I once again give this gift.
This is a hymn that, in my Mennonite heritage, is often associated with the long journey of those who left the Ukraine in the early 1900s and came to Canada and the United States. A story of hardship, persecution, escape and arrival in a new land with new opportunities. It is a history steeped in the idea that faith carries one through difficult times, and this hymn’s words reflect this.
In the rifted rock I’m resting,
Safely sheltered I abide;
There no foes nor storms molest me,
While within the cleft I hide.
Refrain: Now I’m resting, sweetly resting,
In the cleft once made for me;
Jesus, blessed Rock of Ages,
I will hide myself in Thee.
Long pursued by sin and Satan,
Weary, sad, I longed for rest;
Then I found this heav’nly shelter
Opened in my Savior’s breast.
Peace which passeth understanding,
Joy the world can never give,
Now in Jesus I am finding,
In His smiles of love I live.
In the rifted rock I’ll hide me,
Till the storms of life are past;
All secure in this blest refuge,
Heeding not the fiercest blast.
The friend that suggested this hymn, mentioned that her daughters were learning to play this hymn for their grandfather’s funeral. I found that quite moving. For them, it reflects their ancestral history, their faith story, a gift of music to comfort those who remain and an understanding of the peaceful rest their loved one would find after his passing. How beautiful. How peace-filled.
This is a song that speaks of a longing for peace. Recognizing the many challenges of life; the storms and the fierce blasts. It is a plea for rest. I suppose we all need a place to find rest. We live turbulent lives and there is little protection from these storms and blasts. Finding a place that keeps us safe is something that we all seek. Using our gifts to give a little bit of that shelter to those in our lives is a good and valuable occupation. I imagine my ancestors singing this song and think they were doing just that. I ponder two girls playing beautiful music in memory of their grandfather and think they were doing it as well. Give someone a space for rest – with song, deed and care. Life’s storms are cold, but our gifts can warm, shelter and protect.