We Feebly Struggle, They in Glory Shine

Le Jour Des Morts, William Bougueareau, 1859

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And the Lord make you to increase and abound
in love toward another,
and toward all men,
even as we do toward you:
to the end he may establish your hearts
unblameable in holiness before God,
even our Father,
at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ
with all his saints.
I Thessalonians 3:12-13

One of the side benefits of singing old hymns, especially the really ancient ones (i.e. Of The Father’s Love Begotten) is the connection that it brings with our brothers and sisters in Christ from far distant days. 

I love to sing Great is Thy Faithfulness because it was my mom’s favorite hymn and her memory is wrapped in between every syllable when I sing or play it.  I love the rousing A Mighty Fortress Is Our God because it is solid truth; but it also brings to mind Martin Luther.

It is thrilling to walk where (fill in the blank) walked.  I think history grabbed my young heart when I realized that these people really livedAll are one in Thee, for all are Thine.   We. Are. Connected. There are so many saints who went before us; the page about their lives is blank.  But we know The Book they read.  And we know some of what they sang. 

These fragments of their lives are precious remnants.  Sometimes I work on memorizing a hymn or psalm while I wash dishes by hand.  I think of the women who did the same tasks five hundred years ago, and perhaps sung the same songs. And I wonder…was Tallis as difficult to sing when Tallis himself was teaching them?  Did they have to struggle with the melody before the beauty broke through?  Did Goudimel hear the textures I hear when we sing his harmonization of the psalms? 

We are tempted to squander our heritage. We search with diligence for the Next New Thing, dismiss the past, and discard it with nary a thought.  

I’m getting a second chance tomorrow to recapture some of my own heritage.  My husband, son and I are having lunch with my uncle and aunt (my mom’s brother and his wife).  I’ve already told them I want to know more about my Dutch Grandma.  She was born in Holland and emigrated to America.  She was always more interested in being helpful than being the center of attention.  Her daughter-in-law responded with warmth and enthusiasm.  “I can’t wait to tell you all about my wonderful mother-in-law and all that she taught me.”  

Happy All Saints Day. 


10 thoughts on “We Feebly Struggle, They in Glory Shine

  1. A friend’s father recently died, and when we sang Great Is Thy Faithfulness the next week, she sobbed. It obviously brought to mind her dear dad. Such powerful words of truth, too.

    My favorite hymns are Be Still My Soul and Be Thou My Vision.

    Beautiful picture.

    Happy November,

  2. Excellent illustration for this hymn…

    Although I’m familiar with W A Bouguereau and recognized his style, I was not aware of this particular painting. Lovely.

    Singing some hymns/songs chokes me up because of those kinds of thoughts.

    Happy All Saints Day to you, too!

  3. Thank you to one of my favorite saints. Another blessing, another deep point to ponder, another wistful moment in the day. How nice to sing to myself this hymn here at the office. blessings beloved. m in sc

  4. I love “A Mighty Fortress”. However, to tease my kids, I often sing it (around the house only) “A Mighty Footrest Is Our God”.

    (We also sing “I Surrender Some”.)

  5. Our worship team led us in “What a friend we have in Jesus” this past Sunday, a hymn I’ve song o’er and o’er — but for some reason, the words really impacted me, and the singing by the congregation seemed unusually sincere and moving. I can still hear them.

  6. Two of my favorites are “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In the Garden.”  Both of these were sung at my grandmother’s memorial service and remind me of her. She is the only person I’ve been with when they passed away and am still deeply touched when I think of that privilege, holding her hand and singing the above hymns that were her favorites.How exciting to see your aunt & uncle!!  How did that come about? Are they visiting in the area?  Look forward to hearing all about it!!!  Love to you, me

  7. Great is Thy Faithfulness, one of my favorites as well, add to that Be Thou My Vision and It Is Well With My Soul and How Great Thou Art. . . .  of course, there aren’t many of those good old hymns that I don’t enjoy!

  8. Great is Thy Faithfulness, Be Thou My Vision, and The Love of God are my favorite old hymns.  The Love of God has a verse that was based on a Jewish poem written in 1050.  I still get goosebumps thinking about that.Blessings,Sandy

  9. i’m in Southwest England visiting my daughter and her family, and went to their church on Sunday in this beautiful old church with the origins in the 1300’s!! Talk about that feeling of being where brothers and sisters trod–

  10. Lovely, lovely post. We are surrounded by that great cloud of witnesses, yes!Great is Thy Faithfulness was my grandmother’s favorite; A Mighty Fortress is my Husband’s favorite. Music truly is a tie that binds hearts together, isn’t it? Even across the generations.

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