“WHISPERING HOPE”

Wayne S. Walker

“We…have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold
upon the hope set before us. Which hope we have as an anchor of the
soul…” (Heb. 6.18-19))

INTRO.: A song describing the hope set before us which serves as a
strong consolation is “Whispering Hope” (#383 in “Hymns for Worship
Revised” and #535 in “Sacred Selections for the Church”). The text was
written and the tune was composed both, under the pseudonym of Alice
Hawthorne, by Septimus Winner, who was born on May 11, 1827, in
Philadelphia, PA. A self-taught musician who also ran a music store,
gave lessons on various instruments, and played in both the Philadelphia
Brass Band and the Cecilian Musical Society, he became a poet, violinist
and prolific songwriter of the later 19th century, who wrote or edited
over 200 volumes of music for more than 20 instruemtent, and produced
2,000 arrangements for violin and piano. Using his mother’s maiden name
for composing the kinds of popular, sentimental ditties that were often
identified with women musicians of that day, he had several pseudonyms.
His “Listen to the Mockingbird” was published in 1855, and “Where,
Oh, Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” was published in 1864. Both became
favorites, along with his “Ten Little Indians.” Unfortunately, he sold
the rights to “Listen to the Mockingbird” for the grand sum of five
dollars before it sold 20 million copies over the next few years.

“Whispering Hope” was published in 1868, but those who knew him said that
Winner did not intend it to be a religious song. In fact, it is claimed
that Winner was somewhat amazed and amused that its great popularity was
achieved as a hymn. Whatever his intentions were, the song did gain
instant access among churches and has been published continuously in
hymnbooks ever since. Another interesting fact is that Winner’s brother,
Joseph E. Winner, was also a songwriter and became jealous of his
brother’s success with “Whispering Hope.” So Joe attempted to surpass
his brother by writing a novelty song that he hoped would bring him fame
and fortune as well. That song was one about drinking, “Little Brown
Jug.” It was successful too, but certainly not to the degree of
“Whispering Hope.”

Septimus Winner died in Philadelphia on Nov. 22, 1902. Most books
published for use among churches of Christ have had this song in one
arrangement or another. “Great Songs of the Church” Nos. 1 and 2 both
had one for soprano-alto duet presumably made by editor L. O. Sanderson;
this was also used in “Abiding Hymns.” “Christian Hymns” Nos. 1, 2, and
3 all had one for soprano-alto-tenor trio made by editor L. O. Sanderson;
this is also found in “Hymns for Worship” and “Church Gospel Songs and
Hymns.” “The Christian Hymnal” had another one for soprano-alto duet
made by editor J. Nelson Slater. Arrangements for all four parts were
made by Ellis J. Crum for “Sacred Selections,” by Alton H. Howard for his
three books (“Songs of the Church,” “Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed.,”
and “Songs of Faith and Praise”), and by Michael Green in “Praise for the
Lord.”

This is a beautiful hymn of hope that we often sing in our worship.

I. From stanza 1 we learn that hope is a source of comfort
“Soft as the voice of an angel, Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope, with a gentle persuasion, Whispers her comforting word.
Wait till the darkness is over, Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow, After the shower is gone.”
A. Even though there is no Biblical evidence that angels speak to anyone
today, hope is like the voice of an angel because it comes to us from
God: 1 Thess. 2.16
B. This hope whispers her comforting word because it pours forth the
love of God in our hearts: Rom. 5.1-5
C. And it gives us comfort for the future by making it possible to wait
for the sunshine tomorrow: Gal. 5.5

II. From stanza 2 we learn that hope is a source of light in darkness
“If, in the dusk of the twilight, Dim be the regions afar,
Will not the deepening darkness Brighten each glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us, Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over, Watch for the breaking of day.”
A. Sometimes it seems that the dimness of earth discourages us, but one
of the things which abides to keep us going is hope: 1 Cor. 13.13
B. Thus, event hough we must suffer the sorrows of earth’s darkness, we
can still rejoice in hope: Rom. 12.9-12
C. And this hope enables us to watch for the breaking of day because it
points us to a brighter future: Col. 1.5

III. From stanza 3 we learn that hope is a source of steadfastness in our
lives
“Hope, as an anchor so steadfast, Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Whither the Master has entered, Robbing the grave of its goal.
Come, then, O come, gald fruition, Come to my sad, weary heart,
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory, Never, O never depart.”
A. Hope is an anchor so steadfast because looking toward the future it
provides the benefit of patience in our lives even now: Rom. 8.24-25
B. This hope is possible because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
the Master who entered the veil and robbed the grave of its goal: 1 Pet.
1.3
C. Therefore, we look forward to the coming of Him who is our blest hope
of glory as the fruition, i.e., the fulfillment or realization, of our
hope: Col. 1.27, Tit. 2.13

CONCL.: THe chorus reminds us of the blessed benefits of true hope:
“Whispering hope, O how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in it sorrow rejoice.”
While God does not speak directly to us todya, He does whisper to us
through His written word about the hope set before us. Faith is describe
in the Bible as the substance of things hoped for (Heb. 11.1). This is a
good reason to find strength in the power of hope. Biblical hope is
desire plus expectation with regard to God’s promises. This grand old
song contains several tender expressions which allude to the quiet
comfort and strength that we can find in God’s “Whispering Hope.”

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