Samuel S. Wesley and Ray Overholt
As we begin a New Year, let us consider the text of the hymn “Another Year is Dawning” put to music by Charles Wesley’s grandson Samuel S. Wesley:
In January of 1874, the many friends of Frances Ridley Havergal received a New Year’s greeting with the heading, “A Happy New Year! Ever Such May it Be!” Following this greeting appeared her text, still considered to be one of the finest New Year’s prayers of consecration ever written:
Another year is dawning, Dear Father, let it be, in working or in waiting another year with Thee; Another year of progress, another year of praise, another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace; another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face; Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast; another year of trusting, of quiet, of rest.
Another year of service, of witness for Thy love; another year of training for holier work above. Another year of dawning, Dear Father, let it be, on earth, or else in heaven, another year for Thee. Amen.
One can well imagine that those who received this greeting card from Miss Havergal that year read her words thoughtfully. They were written by one who had already become widely known throughout England as “the consecration poet”. It was said of her that she always lived her words before she wrote them. Her life was one of constant and complete commitment to God. Her many talents – an accomplished pianist and vocalist, proficiency in seven languages, a keen mind (memorization of the entire New Testament, Psalms, Isaiah, and the Minor Prophets) – were all dedicated to serving God and others during the New Year. May that be our challenge for this new year as well!
More Hymn History…
Rarely has a hymn-writer been led to Christ by his ow n song, but such was the case with Ray Overholt. In 1958, at the height of his show-business career, Ray Overholt wrote his now-famous song, “Ten Thousand Angels”. Here is his story as he related it:
“One day I thought to myself: I’ve written secular songs, I’d like to write a song about Christ. I opened the Bible. I knew a little about it from my mom. I began to read how Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane told Peter to put away his sword. Jesus told Peter that He could ask His Father and He would send twelve legions of angels. I didn’t know at the time that would have been more than 72,000 angels (cf: MATT 26:53). I thought a good title for a song would be “He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels”. The more I read about Jesus, the more I admired him for what he had done. I was playing in a nightclub in Battle Creek, Michigan, when the Lord impressed me to write the song. I wrote the first verse and put it in my guitar case. I then told the club t hat I was quitting. I finished the song and sent it to a publishing house, which reluctantly agreed to publish it. Sometime later I found myself singing at a small church. I sang “He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels”. Following my singing, a preacher spoke a message that gripped my heart. I knew I needed Christ. So I knelt there and accepted, as my Saviour, the One whom I had been singing and writing about.“
Ray Overholt became a traveling singer and preacher.