Isaiah 9:1-4; II Peter 1:9; Revelation 21;
DRAWN TO THE LIGHT
Text and tune: John Ylvisaker (1937-2017)
R/Dawn is in sight, Gone is the night
Drawn to the light and the morning,
Glorious and bright, Oh, what a sight
To be drawn to the light of God.
For reasons of copyright I can’t print more of this out, but find the text here
WE'VE A STORY TO TELL TO THE NATIONS
Text and tune: H. Ernest Nichol (1862-1926)
1. We've a story to tell to the nations, That shall turn their hearts to the right, A story of truth and mercy, A story of peace and light, A story of peace and light. R/ For the darkness shall turn to dawning, And the dawning to noonday bright, And Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth, The kingdom of love and light.
2. We've a song to be sung to the nations, That shall lift their hearts to the Lord, A song that shall conquer evil, And shatter the spear and sword, And shatter the spear and sword. R/
3. We've a message to give to the nations, That the Lord who reigneth above Aas sent us His Son to save us, And show us that God is love, And show us that God is love. R/
4. We've a Savior to show to the nations, Who the path of sorrow has trod, That all of the world's great peoples May come to the truth of God, May come to the truth of God! R/
Epiphany is mission time. What we are called to do is testify to Christ the Light of the World. Jesus says that when he is lifted up, he will draw all people unto him. And when we are drawn to him we become his light, shining to all the world. Mission is not forcing people into becoming Christians. We simply show them the light and then see what happens. People are drawn to the light.
Ylvisaker wrote his hymn for a conference of women in the ELCA (WELCA). That organization was the daughter of many women's missionary societies among Lutherans in the United States. From the first, when women in 19th century America heard of the conditions of women in China, especially the binding of the young girls' feet, their hearts went out to them. The women missionaries who felt called to China almost always spoke of their desire to help these women and girls.
The story of ladies aids really is the story of missions. Women would meet once a month in a neighbor's home to hear letters from the women missionaries while they sewed, quilted and knit clothes, praying for those they heard about in the letters. The bond that the women missionaries forged with women in China and Minnesota through their letters is amazing. Thea Rønning, a farm girl from Bø in Telemark, Norway, had heard about the needs in China. When she emigrated in 1887 to Minnesota where her brother Halvor was pastor, they both heard the call to China. Halvor had once looked up at the stars sparkling in the skies and imagined each one was an angel rejoicing in the salvation of a new person. Both would come to help add to those stars.
In October, 1891 the brother and sister left the Solør congregation near Fairbault for China. They arrived in Hankow, now Wuhan, where they began studying Chinese and planning their work. Thea set up classes for girls, working to improve their lives.
In doing so she taught her students about a God who loved them enough to come into the world to die for them. She held the light up so people around her could see, and they were drawn to it. The gospel is a story we tell, as the second hymn puts it, and let it do its work. Thea's letters to the women in the congregations were moving testimonies to the light, what their money, usually nickles tied into the corner of a handkerchief, and gifts of blankets and clothes, had done to help women and girls whom they had learned to care about.
One of the most thrilling parts of this story is how Thea planted seeds that are still being harvested. She was faithful in her mission, but only lived some six years after arriving in China. She died of meningitis, in great agony. But the work continued, helped by some of the women pictured here.
The persecution of Christians made people fear the end of Christianity in China, but believers continued to tell the story of Jesus. When the Bamboo curtain was lifted, the children and grandchildren of the missionaries contemporary with Thea went back to the places where they had lived as children. Some of the old people still remembered them and had remained faithful. In fact, the numbers of Christians had actually increased during the great persecutions.
They had not been persuaded by arguments or force. They had come to faith because they had been drawn to the light they saw in Christians, even in the midst of a terrible darkness and brutal persecution. They had seen the love of God in the story of Jesus and in their neighbors. And the stars without number are still rejoicing over each one.
John Ylvisaker said about this hymn, "The first verse of 'Drawn To The Light' is based on Isaiah 9:1-4; the second verse is from II Peter 1:19; and the third verse is from Revelation 21:22-26. The tune name is 'LaCrosse' because it was premiered at a WELCA Conference held in La Crosse, WI. The four-note sequence that is repetitive in the song is the same four notes found in an old English tune called 'Swarthfels Rocks'.
The second was written at the end of the 19th century. It comes from the Sunday school movement in England. The writer, born in Yorkshire, England, had first studied Engineering , but left it for music at Oxford. He received his BA in 1888, the year of the Centenary Mission Conference in London. A writer of tunes and texts for church school students, he published this hymn in 1896 in a collection of Foreign Mission hymns.
DRAWN TO THE LIGHT
From a website
Piano version with text https://youtu.be/aIEtiE6OxgM
WE’VE A STORY TO TELL TO THE NATIONS
Link to the Thea Rønning book