HYMN for Week 15 Showers of Blessing
German: Sende uns strömme voll segen
Swedish: Skurur af nåd skola falla
Text: Daniel Webster Whittle (1840-1901). Tune: James McGranahan (1840-1907)
1 There shall be showers of blessing: This is the promise of love; There shall be seasons refreshing, Sent from the Savior above. R/Showers of blessing, Showers of blessing we need: Mercy-drops round us are falling, But for the showers we plead.
2 There shall be showers of blessing, Precious reviving again; Over the hills and the valleys Sound of abundance of rain. R/
3 There shall be showers of blessing: Send them upon us, O Lord; Grant to us now a refreshing, Come and now honor Thy Word. R/
4 There shall be showers of blessing: Oh, that today they might fall, Now as to God we're confessing, Now as on Jesus we call! R/
REFLECTIONS Nothing is so beautiful as the prairie in June we would say driving through the fertile fields of eastern North Dakota on our way to the church convention in Minneapolis. Mother would exclaim on the vistas of new green fields sweeping over the blue horizon. Most of us, even at this remove, have old connections with a farm somewhere. We are really only three generations away from the time when almost everyone had to farm in order to live. And most people my age can remember that going home to "the farm" was still a part of their yearly routines. Now that is a fading memory, but even without the personal connection, farms are still vital to life. Without them the cities would become a concrete desert. It was an old mantra of William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), the great populist orator and presidential candidate of the late 19th and early 20th century, in his cross of gold speech. "I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic. But destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country." People knew there was truth in what he said.
The farmers around the Upper Midwest are experiencing moderate drought just now. There was a nice day of showers last week and there have been showers this weekend as well. While they have to take what they get, and are thankful for ever drop, what they need is a “good soaking rain.” A day of showers.
During the Depression, especially the years 1934 and 1936 when the temperature set records that still stand today, farmers watched their crops wilt in the dry powdery fields. It was so bad, my mother said, that her father didn’t even take out the binder. The one luxury she remembered was the sweet ripe watermelons that grew by the pump. With all the sun and heat, plus the water from the well, they grew especially well and gave her an obsession for watermelon which she indulged every summer. Memories of luxuries during a hard time.
When it rained after dry spells, farmers would go out and dance with thanksgiving for the showers coming down. Blessings.
Rain from heaven. That is a big theme in the Bible. The Israelites knew God sent the rain and the sun. The famines caused by drought are key to much of the Biblical story—Abraham and Sarah flee to Egypt in a famine, Joseph ends up in Pharoah’s court because of famine, the Exodus from Egypt through the wilderness is dependent on water. The story of Elijah is set around the famine caused by the lack of rain. It finally comes when Elijah sees a cloud the size of a man’s hand rising up on the horizon and soon there is rain. (1 Kings 18:44-45)
The biblical writers also knew that rain was a metaphor that could also be used spiritually. Sometimes our spirits seem dry as powder and we know we need refreshment. Psalm 42 is the great one, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” And of course, Jesus is the living water who quenches our thirst forever. Give me some of that water, we say with the Samaritan woman.
Hymn writers also use it. Hans Adolph Brorson translated a hymn from German that used the image and became part of Dano-Norwegian hymnals: "Come rain from the Heavens. Kom regn fra det høye" ("Komm Himmlischer Regen" by Josua Stegmann.)
2. Come, springs out of heaven, your waters come flow here On this your own land. That flowers and fruit from your gardens may prosper And grow where they stand. See also my heart so abandoned and sore It wishes so dearly With sign and with weeping To hold all your wealth, To hold all your wealth.
Many of us may feel this is a dry time, but we know where to look for refreshment. On the farm, my grandparents and aunts and uncles always looked to the southwest for clouds, and prayed that even a cloud the size of man’s hand, would bring them showers of blessings. Almost always they did receive rain. And they knew it came from God. For spiritual refreshment, we look to God's Word.
We may feel as parched as if we are in a spiritual desert, but Jesus promises us that he is the water of life. Whenever we are thirsty, we are to go to him. Sometimes we may feel those waters are not there and we long for springs from heaven, for seasons of refreshing. We pray the Holy Spirit will bring those showers, but more, show us that indeed we will know the rain from heaven is refreshing us and quenching our thirst again and again. It is what he promised.
Whittle and McGranahan met each other when they were looking for the bodies of Phillip Bliss and his wife who had died in a terrible train accident at Ashtubula, Ohio. They regarded their meeting as a sign they should work together. From then on they became a Gospel Music team. As did many in this movement, they worked with Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey in their revivals. For eleven years they were together, writing songs and holding meetings around the English speaking world.
LINKS Showers of Blessing St. Andrews Church/The Kirk/
Conductor: Prabhu Dorairaj
Piano: Jayanthi Prabhakar
Andy Harsant https://youtu.be/T2hqISashRg
German version https://youtu.be/eV8PG7kjzc4
Swedish version https://youtu.be/OMWrS-hdT0s
Norwegian hymn on "Kom regn fra det høye" Henning Sommerro https://youtu.be/-Z4SKO8xbP0
Oslo Domkirke Kor "Kom regn fra det høye" https://youtu.be/ju3dBQXvNiM
Sondre Bratland "Kom regn fra det høye" https://youtu.be/dPknG7uwxvo
Hymn below on the Samaritan woman John 4