Bridal Love Song
This weekend is one of those grandkids times where noise and clutter abounds; kids ever and always wanting or needing something. I use to think as a young Christian that such a life was a distraction from better and more meaningful things. The childish foolishness, or simple interests, were not thought to have much value. But this all changed when I found a wife and had a family. Love altered everything, and what was once of little worth or meaning has become life of joy and pleasure. It is such thoughts I have reflected on this past week as I remember a Bridal Love Song that I use to share with a young woman who had recently come to Christ. She was overwhelmed with sorrow and pain, and I tried to encourage her faith and hope and love to raise her spirit and soul to happier heights. Little did I know that young woman, a sister in Christ, would several months later be my bride and wife. It was this Bridal Love Song of Tersteegen and Bevan that I wooed by beloved and made her mine. And as they who perform their songs are wont to say: this one is for you.
This Hymn and Song as been wrongly attributed to certain others, confused that it was signed by the initials P.G. It is not Unknown, Anonymous, P.G., or Gerhardt. It is Bevan’s rendition of Gerhard Tersteegen (Ter Stegeen) German Hymns and words while she resided at her home at Princes Gate (P.G.): “A favourite device of hers was to use merely the initials of the house where she was staying when she wrote a hymn.” “Another complication was that Mrs. Bevan preferred to convey the general sense of an original rather than to imitate it word for word. Often in the final version there was more of the translator than of the translated. In this she (probably unconsciously) was following the precedent of that first great translator of German hymns into English, John Wesley. It was perhaps significant that she wrote a biography of him.”
The Hymn was at times ascribed to the Plymouth Brethren, the group Emma Frances Shuttleworth Bevan and her husband was in fellowship with on a regular basis. But the Hymn was not in the Little Flock Hymns in 1856, and not in Darby’s revision in 1881. But it first occurred in Bevan’s “Service of Song in the House of the Lord” (p33-34), 1884. In several of her works of translations and original songs it is clear that rendition is that of TerSteegen and the other Mystics, especially the Germans, like the Friends of God.
Bevan in her own search for a intimate relationship with God in Christ, was drawn to the German Mystics that preceded and prepared for the Reformation. Though a contented married woman, with many children, her ardent fervent zeal and affections were ever drawn to the Bridal Love of Christ and the Church. She found her native High Church Woman experience inadequate to satisfy this intense romantic spiritual tryst. The Plymouth Brethren gave her partial and temporary relief and comfort as she pursued Him Who alone satisfies. In TerSteegen she found great consolation and example, along with those of that way and school; all of which is recorded in several of her books.
Tersteegen is one of those Christians whose life exemplifies the spiritual life of inner contemplation and subjective experience of Christ. He and his kind are often labelled mystics of Christian Mysticism. The church has always had many Christians, men and women, sisters and brothers, who have devoted themselves to God and Christ in such a manner that they could not be ignored or impeded. He like so many have their own unique story that explains and clarifies their peculiar life. The spiritual believer as a Christian will not easily fit the natural category we often define or identify them by, and thus often be branded and rejected or persecuted. The mystery and ministry of which they occupy themselves are often indescribable and foreign to our senses and culture. They will always exist as a witness and testimony to the mass of mankind. They are subject to all human defects as the rest of us, including depression and insanity. Their love is intense in the spirit as it also is seen in the flesh; they are driven by nature to seek the spirit of life and God. As Christian they are Christ intoxicated and obsessed, for good or ill. Christ’s cross and glory, His passion and incarnation, His relations to God and man, are their only concern in their mortality; and always longing to be at home, or for their Beloved to return.
Bridal Love. (The Bride) John 14:3 (Individual and Corporate.)
’Midst the darkness, storm, and sorrow,
One bright gleam I see;
Well I know the blessed morrow
Christ will come for me.
’Midst the peace, the joy, the glory
And the light, God’s own,
Christ for me is watching, waiting,
Waiting ’til I come.
Long the blessed Guide has led me,
By the desert road;
Now I see the coming splendor,
Splendor of my God.
There amidst the love and glory
He is waiting yet;
On His hands a name is graven
He can ne’er forget.
There, amidst the songs of heaven,
Sweeter to His ear
Is the footfall through the desert,
Ever drawing near.
There, made ready are the mansions,
Radiant, still, and fair;
But the Bride the Father gave Him
(Still) is (needed) there.
Who is this, who comes to meet (us),
On the desert way,
As the Morning Star foretelling
God’s unclouded day?
He it is Who came to win (us),
On the cross of shame;
In His glory well (we) know Him,
Evermore the same.
O the blessed joy of meeting,
All the desert past;
O the wondrous words of greeting,
He shall speak at last!
He and (we) together ent’ring
The fair realm above;
He and (we) together sharing
All the Father’s love.
Where no shade nor stain can enter,
Nor the gold be dim,
In His holiness unsullied,
(We) shall walk with Him.
Meet Companion then for Jesus,
From Him, for Him, made—
Glory of God’s grace forever
There in (us) displayed.
He who in His hour of sorrow
Bore the curse alone;
(We) who through the lonely desert
Trod where He had gone;
He and (we), in that bright glory,
One deep joy shall share—
(Ours), to be forever with Him;
His, that (we are) there.