Nearer, my God, to thee

Nearer, my God, to thee. Sarah Flower Adams* (1805-48). Written in 1840, and published in Hymns and Anthems (1841), a book for the use of the Unitarian congregation of William Johnson Fox* at South Place Chapel, Finsbury, London (available online). The hymn was included in the SPCK Hymns for Public Worship (1852); and in the First Edition of A&M (1861), in four stanzas, omitting the last (‘Or if on joyful wing’). It is based on the story of Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:10-22), and presents a potent combination of two themes: human suffering (the cross in stanza 1 is not the Cross of Jesus, but a cross that has to be borne) and the merciful presence of God. The stone of Jacob’s pillow...

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