Gaither Homecoming: Stories Behind Popular Hymns, Day 13

Today’s reading is drawn from Genesis 8:1, Genesis 7:22-23, Hebrews 11:1, 7, and Romans 5:5.

Whispering Hope

“All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. . . . Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive” (Genesis 7:22-23). They had been spared, but things were looking pretty bleak for Noah and his family. They had weathered the worst storm in the history (and future) of the universe and spent forty days trapped inside a boat with hundreds of animals. When would the rain ever stop? When would the sun ever come out? When would their waiting ever end?

“Then God remembered Noah.” And like a breath of fresh air, “God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided” (8:1). Noah and his family had to wait nearly a year longer to finally emerge from the ark onto dry land, but in all that time, sending out his birds, waiting expectantly for a sign, Noah did not lose faith. The writer of Hebrews, who defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” lists Noah in the Hall of Faith. “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:1, 7). Noah believed God for what he could not see and his hope was not disappointed.

This is the same hope that Septimus Winner wrote about in his song, “Whispering Hope.” Septimus Winner, who used the pseudonym Alice Hawthorne, wrote hundreds of songs in his lifetime, including “O Where, O Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” and “Listen to the Mockingbird.” When he wrote and published “Give Us Back Our Old Commander: Little Mac, the People’s Pride” as an objection to President Lincoln’s firing of General George B. McLellan in 1862, he was charged with treason, a capital offense. He was granted a reprieve when he agreed to destroy all copies of the song.

Of all the thousands of songs Winner composed and arranged over the course of his life, none has been more popular or enduring than “Whispering Hope.” It is no wonder. For anyone who believes in Christ knows “thou blest hope of glory,” the hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).

Bible Gateway

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