There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God;
a place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God.
At our Bible study last week, the question came up that always eventually emerges in a good Bible study: How can an all-good, all-powerful God allow little children to suffer and die?
There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God;
a place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God.
Congregations love the hymn “Near to the Heart of God” because it expresses so well the conviction that God is with us in all things. In fact, the hymn came out of the great sorrow of its author, Cleland McAfee, after the tragic death of two of his infant nieces (his brother’s daughters) to diphtheria in 1903. McAfee was both preacher and choir director at the campus Presbyterian church at Park College in Parkville, Mo.
As McAfee sat, grieving, wondering what he could preach in church the next Sunday, the inspiration for the song came to him, and he wrote both the words and music. The same week at choir practice, he taught it to the choir at his church, and that very evening the choir sang it outside the quarantined home of McAfee’s brother. They sang it again on Sunday.
There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God;
A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before thee near to the heart of God.
We’ll close our worship service Sunday with “Near to the Heart of God.” I need to sing it and hear it and be reassured that the church and I are always near to the heart of God.