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The Sands of Time are Sinking


Adapted by Anne Ross Cousin (1824-1906), from Samuel Rutherford (~1600-1661).


Sung to the tune: Rutherford

The sands of time are sinking
The dawn of heaven breaks,
The summer morn I've sighed for
The fair sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark has been the midnight,
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

Oh! Well it is for ever
Oh! Well for evermore -
My nest hung in no forest
Of all this death-doomed shore:
Yea, let the vain world vanish,
As from the ship the strand,
While glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

There the Red Rose of Sharon
Unfolds its heartsome bloom
And fills the air of heaven
With ravishing perfume:
Oh! To behold its blossom,
While by its fragrance fann'd
Where glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

The King there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen:
It were a well spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb, with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

Oh! Christ He is the fountain,
The deep sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I've tasted,
More deep I'll drink above:
There, to an ocean fulness,
His mercy doth expand,
And glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

Oft in yon sea-beat prison
My Lord and I held tryst,
For Anwoth was not heaven,
And preaching was not Christ;
And aye, my murkiest storm-cloud
Was by a rainbow spann'd,
Caught from the glory dwelling
In Immanuel's land.

But that he built a Heaven
Of His surpassing love,
A little New Jerusalem,
Like to the one above,
"Lord take me o'er the water,"
Had been my loud demand,
Take me to love's own country,
Unto Immanuel's land.

But flow'rs need night's cool darkness,
The moonlight and the dew;
So Christ, from one who loved it,
His shining oft withdrew:-
And then, for cause of absence
My troubled soul I scann'd,
But glory shadeless, shineth
In Immanuel's land.

The little birds of Anwoth,
I used to count them blest, -
Now, beside happier altars
I go to build my nest:
O'er these there broods no silence,
No graves around them stand,
For glory, deathless, dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

Fair Anwoth, by the Solway,
To me thou still art dear,
E'en from the verge of heaven,
I drop for thee a tear.
Oh! If one from Anwoth
Meet me at God's right hand,
My Heaven will be two Heavens,
In Immanuel's land.

I've wrestled on towards heaven
'Gainst storm, and wind and tide'
Now like a weary traveller
That leaneth on his Guide,
Amid the shades of evening,
While sinks life's lingering sand,
I hail the glory dawning
From Immanuel's land.

Deep waters cross'd life's pathway,
The hedge of thorns was sharp;
Now, these lie all behind me -
Oh! For a well tuned harp!
Oh! to join Hallelujah
With yon triumphant band,
Who sing, where glory dwelleth,
In Immanuel's land.

With mercy and with judgment
My web of time He wove,
And aye, the dews of sorrow
Were lustred with His love:-
I'll bless the hand that guided,
I'll bless the hand that plann'd
When throned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

Soon shall the cup of glory
Wash down earth's bitt'rest woes,
Soon shall the desert briar
Break into Eden's rose;
The curse shall change to blessing -
The Name on earth that's bann'd
Be graven on white stone
In Immanuel's land.

Oh! I am my Beloved's,
And my Beloved's mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His "house of wine":
I stand upon His merit,
I know no other stand,
Not e'en where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

I shall sleep sound in Jesus,
Fill'd with His likeness rise,
To love and to adore Him,
To see Him with these eyes:-
'Tween me and resurrection
But Paradise doth stand;
Then-then for glory dwelling
In Immanuel's land.

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom's face,
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace -
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel's land.

I have borne scorn and hatred,
I have borne wrong and shame,
Earth's proud ones have reproach'd me
For Christ's thrice-blessed name:-
Where God His seal set fairest
They've stampt their foulest brand,
But judgment shines like noonday
In Immanuel's land.

They've summoned me before them,
But there I may not come, -
My Lord says "Come up hither",
My Lord says "Welcome home!"
My kingly King, at His white throne,
My presence doth command,
Where glory-glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.


Biographical Notes

Anne Ross Cousin (1824-1906)

A doctor's daughter with literary gifts, and wife of a Free Church of Scotland minister of Melrose, Roxburghshire. Author of 107 hymns, "The sands of time are sinking" being far and away the most memorable, first published in the Christian Treasury of 1857, having been adapted from sayings found in about thirty-six of Samuel Rutherford's immortal Letters;. See Christian Hymn Writers, by Elsie Houghton, page 251, Evangelical Press of Wales, 1982.

Samuel Rutherford (~1600-1661)

A native of Roxburghshire, he graduated from Edinburgh University to be appointed 'regent of humanity'. He was about twenty-seven years of age when converted to Christ. From 1627 to 1636 he was pastor of Anwoth parish among the soft green hills of Galloway overlooking the Solway Firth and the hills of Cumbria. Hence the allusions in the hymn. Because of his nonconformity to Episcopacy and his adherence to Calvinism against Arminianism he was deprived of his ministry for nine years and banished to Aberdeen, alluded to in the hymn as his "sea-beat prison". See Letters of Samuel Rutherford, with a Biographical Introduction by Andrew Bonar, pages 1-25, republished by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1984.

The following story has always intrigued, "There is a tradition that Archbishop Usher, passing through Galloway, turned aside on a Saturday to enjoy the congenial society of Rutherford. He came, however, in disguise; and being welcomed as a guest, took his place with the rest of the family when they were catechised, as was usual, that evening. The stranger was asked, 'How many commandments are there?' His reply was 'Eleven'.(footnote 1) The pastor corrected him; but the stranger maintained his position, quoting our Lord's words, 'A NEW COMMANDMENT I give to you, that you love one another." They retired to rest, all interested in the stranger. Sabbath morning dawned. Rutherford arose and repaired, as was his custom, for meditation to a walk that bordered on a thicket (footnote 2) , but was startled by hearing the voice of prayer - prayer too from the heart, and in behalf of the souls of the people that day to assemble. It was no other than the holy Archbishop Usher; and soon they came to an explanation, for Rutherford had begun to suspect he had 'entertained angels unawares.' With great mutual love they conversed together; and at the request of Rutherford, the Archbishop went up to the pulpit, conducted the usual service of the Presbyterian pastor, and preached on 'the New Commandment.'" Ibid. pages 9-11.

"It was at St. Andrew's Rutherford died, on 30
th March 1661…..Had he lived a few weeks his might have been the cruel death endured by his friend James Guthrie, whom he had encouraged, by his letters, in steadfastness to the end. The sentence which the Parliament passed, when told that he was dying, did him no dishonour. When they had voted that he should not die in the College, Lord Burleigh rose and said, 'Ye cannot vote him out of heaven.'" Ibid. page 22. The last verse of the hymn is a clear allusion to this experience: "They've summoned me before them, but there I may not come, - my Lord says 'Come up hither,' my Lord says 'Welcome home!' my kingly King, at His white throne, my presence doth command," (before a Higher Court).


Footnote 1: In the parish church of Chisledon, North Wilts, there are to be seen Eleven Commandments inscribed on a slab (which is affixed to the chancel arch); the additional one consisting of our Saviour's precept - "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another" (John 13:34). The church dates back to 1641.

Footnote 2: The place is still pointed out by tradition, as "Rutherford's Walk", close to the old manse, which was pulled down long ago.



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