Wayne S. Walker

“I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My
hand” (Exo. 33.22)

INTRO.: A song of joy that Christ is our Savior, based on the
picture of God putting Moses in the cleft of the rock and covering him
with His hand is “He Hideth My Soul” (#363 in “Hymns for Worship Revised”
and #127 in “Sacred Selections for the Church”). The text was written by
Fanny J. Crosby, who was born in a little cottage at Gayville in the
community of Southeast, Putnam County, NY, on Mar. 24, 1820. At six
weeks old she caught a cold, and when a country doctor mistakenly
diagnosed her condition and prescribed a hot mustard poultice for her
inflamed eyes, her eyes were scarred and she gradually lost her eyesight
until she became blind at age five. However, at age eight, she produced
her first poem. “Oh, what a happy child I am, Although I cannot see! I
am resolved that in this world Contented I will be.” She later said that
she never held any resentment for that doctor and had resolved to leave
all care to yesterday. On one occasion, as a young woman, she spoke
before the United States Senate and moved many Senators to tears with the
recital of one of her poems, proving that blind people can be educated if
they have the proper training.

Fanny’s father had died when she was a year old, and after living
with her own parents for several years, Fanny’s mother moved to
Ridgefield, CN, when the girl was nine. She received her early
instruction from her grandmother and attended local schools sporadically,
then was educated for several years at the New York State School for the
Bline in New York City, and following her graduation taught grammar,
rhetoric, and history for eleven years at that school. During the 1850’s
she began writing verses for minstrel songs. In 1858 she married
Alexander Van Alstyne, a blind musician whom she had met while in school.
They had one child who died in infancy. Then in the 1860’s she began
writing texts for gospel songs at the urging of William Batchelder
Bradbury. Some of her songs identify her by her full married name,
Frances Jane Van Alstyne, while others use various pseudonyms. It is
said that more than any other writer, she captured the spirit if the
nineteenth century American gospel song. Much of her writing was done to
order, and for several years she was under contract to produce three
hymns a week for Bradbury’s successor, the Biglow and Main Co. This one
was penned in 1890.

At that time Fanny was living in a New York City apartment and
attending the John St. Methodist Episcopal Church. She received a visit
from composer William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921). Many of his
melodies are well-known, including one for another of Fanny’s texts,
“Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It.” He had just completed a new tune
(now called Kirkpatrick) which he felt needed suitable words. When he
played the melody for her, Fanny’s face lit up, she knelt in prayer, and
soon gave Kirkpatrick the lines of “He Hideth My Soul.” It first
appeared in “The Finest of the Wheat, No. 1,” which Kirkpatrick compiled
with George D. Elderkin, R. R. McCabe, and John Robson Sweney in 1890.
The phrase, “Rivers of pleasure I see,” illustrates Fanny’s triumph over
her blindness. During her lifetime, Fanny Crosby authored over 8,000
hymns before her death at age 95 in Bridgeport, CN, on Feb. 12, 1915.
Most hymnbooks in this nation contain more hymns by her than any other
single author, and this hymn has been in almost every single songbook
used among churches of Christ in the twentieth century.

The song suggests that Jesus is a Savior who gives us numberless

I. According to stanza 1, He is the source for rivers of pleasure
“A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the Rock, Where rivers of pleasure I
A. Jesus came to be our Savior: Matt. 1.21
B. As God hid moses in the cleft of the rock, so He provides a refuge
for our souls when our lives are hidden in Christ: Col. 3.3
C. As a result, our lives can be filled with rivers of pleasure and we
can rejoice in the Lord always: Phil. 4.4

II. According to stanza 2, He takes our burden away
“A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved, He giveth me strength as my
A. The most important burden that He takes away is sin: Matt. 11.28-30;
another burden or bondage that he removes is the fear of death: Heb.
B. Having taken our burden away, He holds us up so that we need not be
moved away from the hope of the gospel: Col. 1.23
C. And he gives us the strength that we need: Col. 1.10-11

III. According to stanza 3 (omitted in “Hymns for Worship”), He fills us
with His fulness divine
“With numberless blessings each moment He crowns, And filled with His
fulness divine,
I sing in my rapture, O glory to God, For such a Redeemer as mine.”
A. This fulness divine entails all spiritual blessings in heavenly
places: Eph. 1.3
B. And these blessings include grace and truth by which we can be filled
with God’s fulness: Jn. 1.14-18
C. Therefore, we can sing with rapture and give God glory for such a
Redeemer: Col. 3.16

IV. According to stanza 4, He will transport us to meet Him
“When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise To meet Him in clouds
of the sky;
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love, I’ll shout with the millions
on high.”
A. Someday, when He comes again, we shall be clothed in His brightness
and transported to meet Him: 1 Thess. 4.16-17
B. We shall meet Him in the clouds because He will come with the clouds
just as He went into heaven: Acts 1.11
C. Then we can shout eternally with the millions on high about His
perfect salvation and His wonderful love: Rev. 1.5-6, 5.8-13

CONCL.: The chorus expresses the joy that the believer has because
of all these blessings:
“He hideth my soul in the cleft of the Rock That shadows a dry, thirsty
He hideth my life in the depths of His love, And covers me there with His
And covers me there with His hand.”
Indeed, why should not my heart be filled with overwhelming joy when I
realize that “He Hideth My Soul”?

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