NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD
Words and Music by Cleland B. McAfee, 1866–1944
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy. (Psalm 94:19)
O Thou who dry’st the mourner’s tears! How dark this world would be,
If, when deceived and wounded here, we could not fly to Thee.
Life is often filled with unexpected problems or crises. Unrest and despair will darken the way of even the strongest saint. Yet the Christian—because of the refuge he has in God—should strive to maintain composure and stability in spite of stress and difficulties. We cannot escape the pressures and dark shadows in our lives; but they can be faced with a spiritual strength that our Lord provides. As we are held securely “near to the heart of God,” we find the rest, the comfort, the joy and peace that only Jesus our Redeemer can give. Because of this, we can live every day with an inner calm and courage.
This is the message that Cleland McAfee expressed in this consoling hymn at a time when his own life was filled with sadness. While he was serving as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Dr. McAfee was stunned to hear the shocking news that his two beloved nieces had just died from diphtheria. Turning to God and the Scriptures, McAfee soon felt the lines and the tune of this hymn flow from his grieving heart. On the day of the double funeral he stood outside the quarantined home of his brother Howard singing these words as he choked back the tears. The following Sunday the hymn was repeated by the choir of McAfee’s church. It soon became widely known and has since ministered comfort and spiritual healing to many of God’s people in times of need.
There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God, a place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God.
There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God, a place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God.
There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God, a place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.
Chorus: O Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God, hold us who wait before Thee near to the heart of God.
For Today: Psalm 34:18; 73:28; Ecclesiastes 5:1; Matthew 11:28–30; Hebrews 4:16
Determine to live courageously regardless of what may come your way—but always with a sensitive awareness of God’s nearness. Use this musical prayer to help—