PLAIN VIEW HERITAGE FARM,

RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:

"Chautauqua for Stadems,"

by Ron Ginther


From August 5, "One Year Book of 365 Devotional Readings, Based on Great Hymns of the Faith":

"Remember, My child, that you have a gift of weaving fancies into verse and a gift with the pencil of producing visions that come to your heart, consecrate these to Me as thoroughly as you do your inmost spirit." That was what God seemed to be syaing to Mary Lathbury, an artist by training, a teacher of art by profession, and eventually the general editor of Methodist Sunday school materials [this isn't the postmodern Methodist church of today, but the one that was originally Bible-based--Ed.].

She is regarded as one of the founders of the Chautauqua Movement, which began as a Christian summer conference on Lake Chautauqua in western New York. The movement spread across the coutnry, providing both Christian education and cultural development to thousands of believers.

At Chautauqua, Lathbury was asked to write an appropriate evening hymn for the conference. As she sat watching the sun disappear behind the trees, she was inspired to write the first two stanzas of this hymn. The third and fourth stanzas were written two years later.

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"Day is Dying in the West"

Day is dying in the west;

Heaven is touching earth with rest;

Wait and worship while the night

Sets her evening lamps alight

Through all the sky.

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD OF HOSTS! HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE FULL OF THEE! HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE PRAISING THEE, O LORD MOST HIGH!

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Lord of life, beneath the dome

Of the universe, Thy home,

Gather us who seek Thy face

To the fold of Thy embrace,

For thou art nigh.

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While the deepening shadows fall,

Heart of love enfolding all,

Through the glory and the grace

Of the stars that veil Thy face,

Our hearts ascend.

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When forever from our sight

Pass the stars, the day, the night,

Lord of angels, on our eyes

Let eternal morning rise

and shadows end.

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Psalm 104: 19-24, NRSV:

You have made the moon to mark the seasons, the sun knows its time for setting. You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens. people go out to their work and to their labor until the evening. O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

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Note: As a writer, trained in college and on my own as my chosen vocation since childhood, I know you cannot just toss off a quick poem about the evening's beauties and come up to the sublime height of this piece, "Day is Dying in the West"--it just will not happen, it has to come from deep in a true believer's soul and spirit, one who has known and for years practiced walking and fellowshiping with God as Mary Lathbury obviously did. Read it slowly, again. Savor every word and image. It will sink deeper and deeper into your spirit if you do and bless you, liberating the child of God from the glibness and superficiality of our present age.--Ed.]

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"The Trumpet Call," the Homegoing Service Messages for Robert Ginther, Father to Darrell Ginther, and Darrell's Uncle, Arthur Stadem


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