Peace, Perfect Peace

Victoria-falls-800Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee – Isaiah 26:3 –King James Version (KJV)

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to Heaven’s perfect peace.

-Words: Ed­ward H. Bick­er­steth, Jr., 1875.

This beautiful hymn was written in 1875 by Edward H. Bickersteth. It is said that Bick­er­steth was va­ca­tion­ing in Har­ro­gate, England, where he heard a ser­mon on Isaiah 26:3 by Canon Gibbon.  The passage read “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.”  The min­is­ter re­lat­ed that the He­brew text used the word peace twice to in­di­cate ab­so­lute per­fect­ion. He said, “It reads in the original, ‘Thou wilt keep him in peace peace whose mind is stayed on Thee,’” and explained the repetition in the Hebrew conveys the idea of absolute perfectionThe translators of the King James Version knew of this Hebrew method and instead of repeating the world peace, which would seem awkward, translated it to “perfect, peace.”

The message of that morning’s sermon was still on Bick­er­steth’s mind when he vis­it­ed an aged and dy­ing rel­a­tive that Sabbath af­ter­noon. As he entered the man’s bedroom he found him in deep depression and troubled about his impending death.  To soothe the man’s emo­tion­al tur­moil, Bick­er­steth opened his Bible to read from Isaiah 26:3, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.  When his friend dropped off to sleep Bickersteth took a sheet of paper and began to write a poem, posing the most disturbing obstacles to peace in life and then answered with the affirmation of faith that could not be denied.  When the patient awoke, the author read the stanzas to him and comfort came to his troubled mind and heart.  Per­haps the last thing he heard before Jesus called him “to Hea­ven’s per­fect peace.”

Later his hymn would comfort his own heart as he stood over the grave of a preacher son.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease, And Jesus call us to Heaven’s perfect peace.

After one of Bick­er­steth’s sis­ters point­ed out that there is no­thing spe­ci­fic in the hymn about phy­si­cal suf­fer­ing. “That is soon rem­e­died,” he re­plied. He took up an en­ve­lope and wrote the fol­low­ing verse (ap­par­ent­ly ne­ver pub­lished) on the back…

Peace, perfect peace, ’mid suffering’s sharpest throes? The sympathy of Jesus breathes repose.

Taken from Songs in the Night, by Henry Gariepy. Eerdman’s Publishing Co.



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