We Know not The Hour

The Hour
1.  We know not the hour of the Master’s appearing;
yet signs all fortell that the moment is nearing
When He shall return ’tis a promise most cheering
But we know not the hour.

2.  There’s light for the wise who are seeking salvation
There’s truth in the book of the Lord’s revelation;
Each prophecy points to the great consummation
But we know not the hour.

3.  We’ll watch and we’ll pray, with our lamps trimmed and burning
We’ll work and we’ll wait till the Masters returning;
We’ll sing and rejoice, every omen discerning
But we know not the hour.
He will come, let us watch and be read-y
He will come, hallelujah! Hallelujah!
He will come, in the clouds of His Father’s bright glory
But we know not the hour.

I have struggled to find this hymn in many hymn books. I first learnt it in my mother Tongue – Tonga and it goes in part “ Tatuzyi ciindi naboola, masikati namasiku, nokuba cindi nelibila, antela buyanda kikucha” Linda, Langila, Linda, Langingila ….. I have finally found the English version and I am so excited. I have however discovered some mismatch in some words and tune. I have also just found out that this hymn was written by one of the most prolific SDA hymn writers. This hymn speaks of the imminence of God’s soon return. “But of that day and hour no one knows, no not even the angels of heaven, but the Father only.” Matthew 24:36. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming-Matthew 24:42. The hymn was written by Franklin Edson Belden who lived between 1858 – and 1945. It is said that he was by far the most prolific Adventist hymn writers of the 19th century. Both words and music were written by Franklin Edson Belden (1858-1945).

With every day that passes, we are one day closer to the end.  That is probably the only indisputable fact we can agree on.  It’s a “truism” – true by simple definition.  But because many false prophets have indeed arisen, and deceived many, just as Jesus warned they would, in the last two centuries there have been numerous predictions regard the date of any of the prophesied end time events.  People who have followed these false prophets have often sold everything they had, waiting on mountain tops or in boats for the exact moment predicted by their “prophet,” and some have even committed suicide at the urging of their “prophet.”

The common response from Christians is to quote Jesus’ statement that “no man knows the day or the hour.”  That is the common translation of the phrase found in Matthew 24:36. Jesus told His disciples to be alert and ready for no man knows neither the day nor the hour of His return.  This was the theme of the epistles of Paul, John, and Peter.  Over the millennium, countless numbers have predicted times of Christ’s return and they are all batting a big, fat zero.  We are told to be looking for His return at any moment. There is nothing in Bible prophecy that forbids His coming today and there are no special events which must first come to pass that precede His Second Advent.  Each of the Apostles expected Jesus to return in their lifetime and so it is today. The only difference is that it is closer today than it was then.  No one can predict His second coming despite what many false prophets and soothsayers have said.  It is time we spent moments revisiting the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

About the Hymn writer

Belden was born at Battle Creek, Michigan, on March 21, 1858. He was the eldest of five children born to Stephen Belden and Sarah Harmon Belden, the elder sister of Ellen Harmon White. He obtained most of his education at Battle Creek College. About the year 1876 he moved with his father and stepmother and James and Ellen White (his uncle and aunt) to California, where he began to compose music. Bronchial trouble caused him to move to Colorado, where, in 1881, he married a woman with musical talent. In the early 1880s Belden and his wife moved to Battle Creek. There he connected with the Seventh-day Adventist publishing work. With Edwin Barnes, he was music editor of The Seventh-day Adventist Hymn and Tune Book for Use in Divine Worship (known as Hymns and Tunes), 1886. With his cousin James Edson White, he produced Joyful Greetings for the Sabbath School, also in 1886. In 1895 he published Gospel Song Sheaf; in 1900, Christ in Song and books of patriotic music. For a time he served as a superintendent at the Review and Herald Publishing Association. About 1910 he began to write songs for evangelist Billy Sunday, which were included in his book Songs for the King’s Business.

Unfortunately, a misunderstanding arose between him and Adventist leaders concerning royalties for his books. The matter was never satisfactorily settled. After his death on December 2, 1945, all his papers and manuscripts were deposited at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.

Belden’s genius in music and poetry was demonstrated by his frequent practice of writing a song to fit a sermon while it was being preached. He and his wife sat in the choir. He would take the Scripture text of the sermon as his theme and, using the preacher’s exposition, write the hymn text. Then he would compose the music for the newly written words. Finally, he and his wife would offer to sing the new hymn in place of the final hymn chosen to conclude the service. They would give the original manuscript of the hymn to the preacher as a souvenir. The book Christ in Song contains many of these hymns and tunes. His contributions to the current Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal are 12 complete hymns (text and tune) and four tunes to words written by other authors.

—Adapted from Wayne Hooper and Edward E. White, Companion to the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, pp. 558, 627, 628.

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