[Masthead] Overcast ~ 66°F  
High: 73°F ~ Low: 49°F
Monday, May 2, 2016

A hymn of 'faith'

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Last Sunday morning I was surprised by joy as the worship leader at church led the congregation in one of the most beautiful hymns I have heard in a long time. It is entitled, "Hymn of Promise," and the words and music were written by Natalie Sleeth.

The lyrics of this hymn spoke volumes to me about the hope that we can find in the promises of God. The words are as follows:

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;

In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!

In the cold and snow of winter there's a spring that waits to be,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There's a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;

There's a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.

From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;

In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,

In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Natalie Sleeth wrote this song in 1985 as a choral anthem, and later adapted it as a hymn. She wrote that she was "pondering the death of a friend (life and death, death and resurrection), pondering winter and spring (seeming opposites), and a T.S. Eliot poem which had the phrase 'in our end is our beginning.' These seemingly contradictory 'pairs' led to the thesis of the song and the hopeful message that out of one will come the other whenever God chooses to bring that about."

Her husband, Dr. Ronald Sleeth, heard "Hymn of Promise" for the first time while he was battling cancer, and shortly before his death. He asked his wife to have this hymn sung at his funeral, which it was.

Much of what happens to us in life we don't understand, and we may find ourselves asking "why?" We may feel sorry for ourselves and ask "why is this happening to me?" And we may look to God and ask "why did you allow this to happen?"

I've learned that we just have to trust that God knows what is going on. He knows what He is doing.

At the end of each stanza Ms. Sleeth wrote these words, "Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see."

God knows. I find comfort in that. God knows. He sees.

The title of this song is "Hymn of Promise," but it really is a "Hymn of Faith." We need to trust that God has a plan and a purpose for all the things we encounter in life. Out of darkness comes the light, the brightness of a new day's dawning comes from the darkest of nights.

If we look to God with our eyes wide open, in time we will understand the plan of God for us. That plan will remain "unrevealed until its season."

In the last several years I have faced the death of numerous friends and family members, young and old alike. I also realized how close I had come to my own death as I lay sick in a hospital bed on several occasions. Death is inevitable for all of us. It is part of the life cycle.

As a Christian, I know that I don't have to be afraid of dying. It will just be a new beginning for me. The hope I have in my heart is to be at home with the Lord.

Natalie Sleeth's beautifully profound words speak peace to me:

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;

In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,

In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at dougmdezotell@yahoo.com.



Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration:

Doug Dezotell
Memories and Musings
Doug Dezotell is pastor of Cannon United Methodist Church and a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette.