He saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to Heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.@Genesis 28:11–12
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Sarah F. Adams (1805–1848)

Verses 1–5, Sarah F. Adams, in Hymns and Anthems, by William Johnson Fox, 1841; verse 6, Edward H. Bickersteth, Jr.

Bethany (Mason) Lowell Mason, 1856 (🔊 pdf nwc). One night, sometime after lying awake in the dark, eyes wide open, through the stillness in the house the melody came to me, and the next morning I wrote down the notes.

This hymn was played on an organ in the 1983 movie The Big Chill, which received several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

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Lowell Mason (1792–1872)

One of my last lectures on Sacred Song and Story was delivered before a large audience in the Church of the Covenant, in Washington, D. C., at which the late Secretary of State, John Hay, members of Congress, and Judges of the Supreme Court were present. The favorite hymn, Nearer, my God, to Thee, was sung very heartily by the congregation. I requested the pastor, the Rev. Dr. Hamlin, to make an appointment for an interview with President [William] McKinley. Two days later we visited the White House. The President greeted me warmly, saying he was very glad to meet me, as he had often heard me sing in Ohio. I understand that you are quite a fine singer yourself, I replied. He smiled and said: I don’t know as to that, but I try to sing with the spirit and the understanding. He seemed very bright and happy, and he gave me his autograph. The next day the President went to New York and attended service at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, during which Nearer, my God, to Thee was sung. The President’s voice was heard, as he joined heartily in his favorite hymn. A reporter took a photograph of the President as he was singing, which appeared the next day in one of the New York papers. In 1902, in Buffalo [New York], as he lay dying by the hands of an assassin, the martyred President was heard singing faintly,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee;
E’en though it be a cross
That raiseth me! Still all my song shall be—
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer o Thee!

And thus passed away one of the noblest men of our age. On the day of his funeral, at Canton, Ohio, all trains, trolley cars and nearly all machinery in the United States were stopped for five minutes, and Nearer, my God, to Thee, was sung in nearly every church in the land.

Sankey, pp. 200–201

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Refrain

Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee!

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone.
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God to Thee.

Refrain

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.

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Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.

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Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

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There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be, nearer my God to Thee.

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