“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You» (Isaiah 26:3).
Warren Cornell, a Methodist minister, sat in his tent. He was taking part in an evangelism conference and had devoted a little time to meditating deeply on an idea that was in his mind. He set out to write a poem, wrote stanzas of this hymn, got up, and went out. He did not realize that the paper had fallen on the ground.
George Cooper, another pastor, came into the tent two hours later and found the paper. He was fascinated by the subject and the stanzas. It was just what he had been thinking about, as well! He decided to complete the poem and then sat down at the organ to compose the melody to which this hymn has always been sung.
If Pastor Cooper had not crouched down when he entered the tent, this hymn might have been lost in a trash can.
The first three stanzas were written by Cornell, speaking in the first person about the experience of peace with God, the quietude, the calm, the heavenly gift as an eternal treasure, the comfort and rest. However, the last verse, written by Cooper, invites the listener to participate in that same peace.
One of the first wakes I participated in was very overwhelming. In addition to being a girl and not having been very exposed to death, the spectacle was terrible. A woman wept out loud and clung to the coffin. Everything was bleak, silent, and heartbreaking.
However, the last wakes I have attended have been within a Christian community where hope in the Second Coming makes the tone of these sad farewells more a time to reflect and be thankful than to be discouraged.
In our wakes, there are songs, light, comfort, handshakes, and pats on the back of the relatives of people who had a good life. There is sadness, of course, but there is no hopelessness and despair. As the hymn says, an infinite calm reign that only the beloved of God can comprehend.
Today, I suggest that you write a message of hope or copy an inspiring verse or poem and make a point of leaving it on the bench in a park or on public transport or at the table of a restaurant. We can be silent agents of a precious message.