God-centered music is a very important part of the way the Holy Spirit ministers to my heart in times of joy and times of sorrow—two emotions that are forever mixed, mingled together in the Christian experience. Of these two mutually-existent emotions, Kevin Twit writes,
I suppose joy and sorrow are the two great inspirations for song in our world. It has long been this way. In the Christian vision of the world these two themes are inextricably linked. We worship the Lamb who was slain, and who will forever carry the scars of His love. We believe it is important for the Church to sing songs that give voice to both of these themes; thus we present our eighth project. Suffering is real and grievous, and it is an obscenity of sorts to deny it in our preaching or our songs. But Christians believe that while suffering is real, it is not ultimate. We believe there is a “joy beyond the sorrow” and we sing to mold our hearts around this reality. [From the back of the lyric sheet from the album Joy Beyond the Sorrow from Indelible Grace Music]
One example of a song that reminds me of this mingling of joy and sorrow, which we find throughout the Bible, is the ancient hymn “Oft in Sorrow.” Indelible Grace introduced me to this hymn, which was before completely unknown to me. The words to this ancient hymn were written by Henry K. White (1785-1806) & Frances S. Fuller-Maitland. This hymn came to light only after White’s death, when it was found among his unpublished papers. In 1827, it was revised by Fuller-Maitland & included in a volume of hymns. Fuller-Maitland was only 14 years old at the time.
I cannot count how many times I have listened to this hymn in the past few weeks. The replay button on my car’s CD player is practically worn out. Originally, there were six verses to the hymn. Here are the four on the recording. Let them encourage you to trust the Lord for strength in your times of weakness.
1. Oft in sorrow, oft in woe, Onward, Christian, onward go.
Fight the fight, maintain the strife, Strengthened with the Bread of life.
2. Let your drooping hearts be glad. March in heavenly armor clad.
Fight, nor think the battle long. Victory soon shall be your song.
3. Let not sorrow dim your eye, Soon shall every tear be dry.
Let not fears your course impede, Great your strength, if great your need.
4. Onward then in battle move, More than conquerors ye shall prove.
Though opposed by many a foe, Christian soldiers onward go
You can read the full, original lyrics here.