Scripture Verse

I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat. Exodus 25:22

Introduction

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Hugh Stowell
1799–1865

Words: Hugh Stow­ell, in The Win­ter’s Wreath, a Col­lec­tion of Orig­in­al Con­tri­bu­tions in Prose and Verse, 1828. Stow­ell re­wrote & re­pub­lished the words in 1831.

Music: Re­treat Tho­mas Hast­ings, 1842 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:

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Thomas Hastings
1784–1872

Anecdote

[This hymn] has been sung through the dec­ades by Chris­tian peo­ple amidst va­ry­ing deg­rees of tri­al and dif­fi­cul­ty…but ne­ver has it been sung with more dra­ma­tic mean­ing than when in 1857 the eight Am­er­ican mis­sion­ar­ies, the Rev. Al­bert John­son, John E. Free­man, Da­vid E. Camp­bell, John Mc­Mull­en and their wives sung in Caw­npore [now Kan­pur], In­dia, just be­fore they and the two Camp­bell child­ren suf­fered the death of Chris­tian mar­tyrs by or­der of the blood-thirs­ty Na­na Sa­hib.

Stowell’s son once wrote that his fath­er’s death il­lus­trat­ed Mont­go­me­ry’s lines,

His watch­word at the gates of death
He en­ters heav­en by pray­er.

My fat­her’s last ut­ter­anc­es, he ad­ded, abun­dant­ly showed his love of and de­light in pray­er. Al­most ev­ery word was pray­er…The morn­ing of his death the on­ly ar­ti­cu­late words that we could catch, ut­tered two or three hours be­fore his de­cease, were Amen! Amen!

Price, p. 31

Lyrics

From ev­ery stor­my wind that blows,
From eve­ry swell­ing tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure re­treat;
’Tis found be­neath the mer­cy seat.

There is a place where Je­sus sheds
The oil of glad­ness on our heads;
A place than all be­sides more sweet;
It is the blood bought mer­cy seat.

There is a scene where spi­rits blend,
Where friend holds fel­low­ship with friend;
Though sun­dered far, by faith they meet
Around one com­mon mer­cy seat.

Ah, whi­ther could we flee for aid,
When tempt­ed, de­so­late, dis­mayed,
Or how the hosts of hell de­feat,
Had suf­fer­ing saints no mer­cy-seat?

There, there, on ea­gles’ wings we soar,
And time and sense seem all no more;
And Heav’n comes down, our souls to greet,
And glo­ry crowns the mer­cy seat.

Oh, let my hand for­get her skill,
My tongue be si­lent, cold, and still,
This bound­ing heart for­get to beat,
If I for­get the mer­cy seat!