“AFTER THE SHADOWS”

Wayne S. Walker

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a
far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4.17)

INTRO.: A song which encourages us to look forward to that far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory is “After the Shadows” (#222 in
“Hymns for Worship Revised,” and #483 in “Sacred Selections for the
Church”). The text was written by James Rowe (1865-1933). An immigrant
from England, he was a very prolific hymntext author in the early 20th
century. Some of his other hymns that many of us have no doubt sung
include “He’s My King,” “Home of the Soul,” “I Choose Jesus,” “I Walk
With The King,” “Looking To Thee,” “Love Lifted Me” (perhaps his
best-known), “Wonderful Jesus,” “You Never Mentioned Him To Me,” and
“Ring Out The Message,” among others.

The tune was composed by Samuel William Beazley, who was born at
Sparta, VA, in 1873. With five diplomas, including an A.B. in English,
he taught singing schools for ten years and then was on the faculty of
Shenandoah College for five years. A Baptist, he married Lorena Garner
and had two sons. Much of his younger life was spent in the South. In
his early years he was connected with the Ruebush-Kieffer Co., but later
left and went to Laurel, MS, where he taught school. Stil later, he was
located in Atlanta, GA, and then maintained branches of his own
publishing business there and in Dallas, TX, after moving to establish
his main office in Chicago, IL, where he was a resident for the rest of
his life. Eventually, he sold his songbook business, and his last book
was purchased by Anthony Johnson Showalter (1858-1924). Showalter is
best-known as the composer of “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms.”
Even after that, however, Beazley continued to furnish songs and
publish books for other companies, especially southern ones, most notably
the Stamps-Baxter Co. In 1922 he served as music editor of “Songs for
the Sunday School,” put out by the Publishing House of the Methodist
Episcopal Church South. Some 4-5 thousand gospel songs are attributed to
him. “After the Shadows” was published in 1915; the copyright was
renewed in 1943 by Stamps-Baxter. Due to failing health, Beazley retired
from active business, and he died at the age of 71 on Sept. 16, 1944, in
a Chicago hospital, where he had been confined for about a month. “After
the Shadows” has been in many of our books, including “Christian Hymns
No. 2,” “Christian Hymns No. 3,” “Christian Hymnal,” and “The Great
Christian Hymnal No. 2.” Today, in addition to “Sacred Selections” and
“Hymns for Worship,” it is found in “Songs of the Church,” “Songs of the
Church 21st C. Ed.,” and “Praise for the Lord.”

The song helps focus our attention on the hope that we have after
this life is over.

I. Stanza 1 pictures heaven as a beautiful morning after a dark midnight.
“After the midnight, morning will greet us; After the sadness, joy will
appear;
After the tempest, sunlight will meet us; After the jeering, praise we
shall hear.”
A. Midnight is often used to symbolize a time of fear and sadness; so
the coming of morning represents joy: Ps. 30.5
B. While storms can occur at any time, it seems that those which come at
night are the scariest, and people hope for morning to come. In like
manner, after the tempests of this life are over, we can look forward to
the sunrise of God’s calm and peace: Ps. 107.23-30
C. Also, it seems that those who jeer prefer to do so at night, under
the cover of darkness, so we wait for the morning when we can hear God’s
praise: 1 Cor. 4.5

II. Stanza 2 pictures heaven as a time of peace after the battle
“After the battle, peace will be given; After the weeping, song there
will be;
After the journey, there will be heaven; Burdens will fall and we shall
be free.”
A. During the battle, there is always lots of weeping, but afterwards
there is the song of victory for God’s people: Rev. 15.2-3
B. The battle also often requires that there be journeying to the scene
of warfare, but when it is over God’s people will go to the place of
their citizenship: Phil. 3.20-21
C. Fighting the battle involves bearing great burdens, but after the
victory, those burdens will be removed and we shall be able to rest from
our labors: Rev. 14.13

III. Stanza 3 pictures heaven as a place of sunshine after shadows
“Shadows and sunshine all through the story, Teardrops and pleasure day
after day;
But when we reach the kingdom of glory, Trials of earth will vanish
away.”
A. This life consists of both sunshine and shadows, teardrops and
pleasure, mingled together as long as we live on this earth: Eccl. 2.24,
9.3
B. However, God has prepared a kingdom of glory for His people: Matt.
25.34, 2 Pet. 1.10-11
C. And when His people reach that eternal kingdom, all the trials,
tribulations, sorrows, and sufferings of this life will vanish away in
the light of God’s glory: Rev. 21.4, 23

CONCL.: The chorus continues the contrast between the shadows of
this life and the sunshine of heaven:
“After the shadows, there will be sunshine; After the frown, the
soul-cheering smile;
Cling to the Savior, love Him forever; All will be well in a little
while.”
As noted earlier, this song has been in many of the popular hymnbooks
used by brethren from around the mid 1900’s. It was hardly ever sung in
my home congregation when I was growing up, and when I would try to lead
it, I never seemed to get the timing at the end of the chorus quite
right. It was not until I went to college that one of the song leaders
in the congregation where I attended led the song from time to time and I
was able to get the rhythm fixed in my mind.
I have always felt that this was a beautiful song, both in the
message that it conveys to us about what we have to look forward to, and
in the music to which that message is sung. It serves to remind us that
whatever problems and difficulties we may be called upon to face in this
life, we can endure if we continue to set our affections on things above
and center our attention on the reward that we shall have “After The
Shadows.”

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