The Comforter Has Come


Words Francis  Bottome  (1823-1894) William J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, spread the tidings ’round, wherever man is found,
Wherever human hearts and human woes abound;
Let every Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound:
The Comforter has come!

Refrain:

The Comforter has come,
The Comforter has come!
The Holy Ghost from heav’n,
The Lord’s dear promise giv’n;
Oh, spread the tidings ’round,
Wherever man is found—
The Comforter has come!

The long, long night is past, the morning breaks at last;
And hushed the dreadful wail and fury of the blast,
As o’er the golden hills the day advances fast!
The Comforter has come!

Lo, the great King of kings, with healing in His wings,
To every captive soul a full deliv’rance brings;
And through the vacant cells the song of triumph rings:
The Comforter has come!

O boundless love divine! how shall this tongue of mine
To wond’ring mortals tell the matchless grace divine—
That I, a child of hell, should in His image shine!
The Comforter has come!

This hymn was written in 1890 by Francis Bottome (1823-1894). Bottome, was born in Derbyshire, England, May 26, 1823. In 1850, having moved to America, he entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopalian Church; and in 1872 he received a degree in Theology. He has written several other hymns but not much is known about the circumstances that led to the writing of this hymn. We also know however that Bottome was one of the modern spiritual movements. The songs and hymns of a spiritual movement often offer the deepest insight into its mood and theology. One of the many songs which catch up the movement’s eschatological vision of the church is Francis Bottome’s Pentecostal hymn, “The Comforter Has Come.” It swells all the notes of victory and triumphalism which marked the ethos of the revival: of the early 1900s.

What I love the most in this hymn is the focus on the Holy Spirit and Pentecost immediately comes to mind. One of the great days of memory for Christians is the day of Pentecost when the promised Holy Spirit came upon the church. Pentecost Sunday is observed fifty days after Easter. The colour associated with Pentecost Sunday is red and the symbol is generally of the dove. Other symbols of the Holy Spirit include:

  • Oil- It is the Holy Spirit that anoints and sets the believer apart for service.
  • Water – It is the Holy Spirit that cleanses Christians from the power of sin
  • Light – It is the Holy Spirit that guides us in steps of truth and righteousness
  • Fire – It is the Holy Spirit that purges and sets our devotion for God ablaze
  • Wind – It is the Holy Spirit that refreshes our often parched hearts

Jesus also referred to the Holy Spirit as the Counsellor, the Comforter, the “paraclete”- the one who would reside in each believer and always be ready to help and guide in times of need.

Following the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the disciples’ awareness of the Holy Spirit in their lives changed them from fearful discouraged disciples into powerful proclaimers of the gospel. This same awareness and giving of the Holy Spirit’s enabling power is still a most necessary ingredient for any Christian to be effective in ministry.

Some comments about the lyrics:

Oh, spread the tidings ’round,– It is a response to the call – Go ye therefore, preaching the gospel everywhere. Just as the disciples did once they had received the Holy Spirit, we too must go everywhere and proclaim the good news. We are saved to serve!

Wherever human hearts and human woes abound” – Wherever man is found is a good description of the world because that is where people live.  Wherever. Means do not choose where to spread the tidings. In any place where a human being abounds. In hospitals, prisons, on the plane on the bus wherever.

Where human woes abound.  The troubles of man are many – they are simply fit to be called human woes. Crimes indescribable.  Man breaths sin in every breath and has caused woes to himself. The place where the tidings must be spread includes the most sinful dungeons. In the midst of troubles where weeping and trouble is found to bring peace and comfort to the world. There go and spread these tidings.  In those woes there is good news i.e. the Comforter is here. He has come. The Holy Spirit our Comforter is available any time, any place, any where.  He is right there in the middle of abounding woes.  Providing grace.  Providing peace.  And yes, providing comfort.

Let every Christian tongue proclaim the joyful sound –There is no one exempt from proclaiming the joyful sound. Every toungue of a Christian should do so. You do not need special talents. Just the fact that Jesus has saved you is enough message to take round. It is a joyful sound so it must be proclaimed. Just as we often will not keep quiet when we have interesting news, so is it with salvation in Christ.

The long, long night is past, the morning breaks at last – We have waited long in our sins and for companion on this pilgrim way. Finally when Christ is come into our hearts and the Holy Spirit resides in us, we rest from the weary burden of since and look forward to the final redemption when he comes.

O boundless love divine! What a challenge to realise that the magnitude of the love of God is beyond my own comprehension. It is boundless. This love is limitless, without boundaries it can reach to the highest mountain and go to the lowest valleys to find any sinner in need of God.

How shall this tongue of mine – To wond’ring mortals tell the matchless grace divine –Now how shall this mouth of mine ever begin to explain the great love of God. Thank God for the Holy Spirit, He gives us utterance and ability to do what any human being cannot do. Speak of the wonderful love of God which is beyond human comprehension

That I, a child of hell, should in His image shine! – This is hard for me to comprehend – how that as a person who was destined for hell, I should now shine in the righteousness of Christ although not my own and be acceptable in the sight of God. Oh Lord help me understand it what it meant to you to take away my sin. That me who is only fit to go to hell because of my sin, God is able to make me shine like I never sinned before. The old is past and the new has come? Yes, God is infinitely loving, infinitely merciful, and infinitely compassionate. God wants to find a way to save everyone. That is the work of the Comforter the Holy Spirit. I can not comprehend it. How can this be! Just how!

Through the vacant cells The story of Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail comes to mind when reading this line.  The Holy Spirit was with Paul and Silas that night. How else could they be praising God in the midst of dirty prison cell after being beaten almost to death.  But by the power of the Holy Spirit, they praised God.  By the comfort of His presence, they were able to praise God in spite of their circumstances.  And then, they were freed from prison.  They were set free by the power of God.  The cell that once contained them as prisoners was now vacant.  The same is true for us.  We have been set free by the grace of God.  We have been ransomed by His blood.  And now, through the vacant cells, we hear the triumphant praise of God’s redeemed people.

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One Response to The Comforter Has Come

  1. Pingback: Healing hymn | Questionhypoth

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