Go Tell It on the Mountain: Day 10

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

by

Today's Text: Deuteronomy 33:27-29, Psalm 71:4-6, Psalm 91:1-16, Psalm 118:6, Proverbs 3:5-12, Galatians 3:5-9

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 33:27-29, Psalm 71:4-6, Psalm 91:1-16, Psalm 118:6, Proverbs 3:5-12, Galatians 3:5-9

Behind the cheerful tune of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” is a heartbreaking story.

There were not only itinerant preachers in the deep South of the mid-1800s, there were also itinerant teachers of church songs. One of the more popular of these traveling teachers was A.J. Showalter. Showalter published over 130 music books, his sales exceeding more than two million copies. He traveled throughout the South to various churches, spending roughly a month with each of them, teaching these revival songs.

On one of these trips, while in the small town of Hartselle, Alabama, A.J. Showalter returned to his room to find two pieces of mail. Each was from a former student, and each contained a tragic story. Both students had lost their wives on the same day and were now widowers.

Eager to offer them solace, Showalter searched the scriptures till he found Deuteronomy 33:27, which read, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” And so he began to write the memorable chorus,

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarm

Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Showalter sent the devastated men these words of comfort even as he was still struggling to compose the verses. He shared what he’d written with a friend, Elisha Hoffman, who then provided the verses. With those verses in place, Showalter wrote the music of the hymn we know today.

It’s ironic that this hymn, born of great tragedy, is couched in an upbeat tune that makes it so easy to remember. But in times of great sorrow, there can be no better truth to recall than this: we can lean, safe and secure, on the everlasting arms of our Lord.


Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
by E. A. Hoffman

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
what a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain:
Leaning, leaning,
safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

SRT-Hymns7-Instagram-10

Matt Redmond loves words, music, his family, and the Church. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Matt attended Southeastern Bible College and Covenant Theological Seminary, and has served in pastoral ministry as well as the banking industry. He and his wife Bethany have three children. Matt is the author of The God of the Mundane and blogs at Echoes and Stars.


Sources:

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings my Soul. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.

Petersen, Randy. Be Still, My Soul: The Inspiring Stories Behind 175 of the Most-Loved Hymns. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2014.

Leave a Reply to churchmouse Cancel reply

/

  • Atalie Jones

    Thank You, Father. With You I am safe and secure. Write these words on my heart today.

  • Allison Joy

    I don’t know why I have only mentioned this now… over half-way through the study, but what I like to do with all these hymn studies is go to Spotify (or your on-line streaming music service of choice) and search for the hymn name and “instrumental” so that I’m listening to instrumental versions of the hymns as I’m reading.

    Also, with the Prov. 3:5-6, I’m always reminded of the song we used to sing in youth group, apparently by Sixpence None the Richer (I didn’t know that/had forgotten).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXmmmPLDKdA

    If you haven’t figured it out by now, I LOVE music, and often find that God speaks to me thorugh music. My mom used to play piano for our church, when she was pregnant with me and when I was younger, so I have known the hymns literally from the womb, and they will always have a special place in my heart. I still attend the traditional service at my church, because I love they old hymns so much.

  • I sang this hymn to myself in my darkest days…when I was carrying my first son, whom I knew would not live long after he was born. Every time he would kick or move, I would lean on God’s everlasting arms, and I still do, ten years later.

  • Needed this today! My husband and I just found out we’re expecting our third child, and while we are very happy and excited, we are also very nervous about many things…I’ve been praying that God walks with us on this journey and provides for our family…to cast all my worries on Him and let Him sort it out…I’m leaning, Lord, I’m leaning in your arms

    • Irina

      And He will, Fenny! Lean on him, trusting your fears and uncertainties… I have friends with 5 and more children in my church and God never had failed to provide for them. God bless your growing family.

  • Ashley BB

    The consistent theme of my life right now is “press in”. In joy, press into Him, in confusion and wonder, press into Him. In fear, worry and anxiety, press into Him. In praise and thanksgiving, press into Him. More and more, this constant pressing in, desiring more of His presence, a deeper relationship with Him, to understand His heart and mind more, and to simply sit and bask in His love.

    I love this hymn. Its overall theme for me is to press in, to lean into Him, safe and secure from all alarms. What a blessedness, what a peace is mine when I lean on the everlasting arms. I wasn’t made to do it all myself (though I LOVE to try!) I was made to be dependent, to lean, to rest, to worship and to trust unwaveringly.

    Sweet friends, as we sing this hymn today may we all press in, and snuggle up close in His everlasting arms regardless of where we are at and what we are feeling.

    • Jenny

      Love this! I will use this today, to “press in” at all times, the good and the bad!

    • Tochi Heredia

      Oh, how I need to press into him in every situation! Thank you for sharing, Ashley!

  • I had no idea this song we sang so often as a child was written just about 20 minutes from where I grew up! Love these “behind the scenes” stories of these hymns that bring back so many memories. ❤️

  • Karen From Virginia

    Leaning on the everlasting arms. Leaning safe and secure. I have appreciated your prayers for my sister. Saturday, she went to the Everlasting arms and said goodbye to this world. It’s been a busy hard few days. But we have seen God’s kindness in our loss. I know it will be hard when I get back to regular life and can’t call my sister.
    Today is her memorial service. My prayer is to honor her and the God she loved. ❤️

  • Kristine L

    What a Word to march into a new school year with! Grateful for the mighty arms of my Protector, the Lighter of Paths, my Refuge in Storms. I may be dragging my feet, but at least I know who walks beside me!

  • churchmouse

    Psalm 91 is often called the soldier’s Psalm and indeed I pray this one for all our military service men and women. My future son in law (in three weeks!) is an Air Force pilot who supports Special Ops so there is a very personal connection. I’m thankful for the comfort and assurance of the Scriptures in today’s reading and in the old hymn that I’ll be humming all day long. The melody of the hymn and the Truth it contains grabs ahold and won’t let go.

    • candacejo

      Thankful for your future SIL’s service! ♥

      • churchmouse

        Thanks! I’d appreciate your prayers for his protection. He’s a wonderful Christian man. So blessed he’s in our lives.

    • Chris

      My daughter spent 10 years as a navigator on the KC 135 refueling fighter planes around the world. God gave me peace during that entire time! Not only was I leaning on Him– I knew she was safe and secure in His everlasting arms!!

  • I watched Dunkirk today and it is quite an eye opener. All those poor young men lost in war! I thank the Lord for granting me a safe haven. I cherish this life I have been blessed with with all my heart. Security should not be taken for granted!

  • What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
    leaning on the everlasting arms?
    I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
    leaning on the everlasting arms….

    Looking forward as I lean today on and in the everlasting arms of my Lord..
    Thank you Lord God for the safe haven of your loving arms, that no matter the circumstance or the situation, the pain or the sorrow, the uncertainty, the worry… your forever loving open arms are there to fall into… Thank you Lord, thank you. Amen.
    Praying, Sisters that you know His loving arms around you today.. whatever your day looks like… with love and hugs. Xxxx

Further Reading...