Today marks the 8th anniversary of the death of my best friend’s husband. Val was only 52 years and 4 days old when he too-suddenly and tragically left this earth. Each year, the first week of February marks the painful reminder of his loss to his wife and children.
They long to see him again, ache to feel his touch, and yearn to hear his witty laughter. Each year they think of all of the happy and sad events and important milestones that he has missed. And, their hearts break all over again.
Yesterday in my feeble attempt to share a message of love and comfort with my friend, I ended up finding a balm for myself as well! (Funny how the Lord always seems to work in a two-fer like that)
My quest led me to a lovely old Christian hymn that I had never heard before entitled “Under His Wings”. The text was written by William O. Cushing in 1896 and inspired by the scripture Psalm 91:4
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
The second verse talks about grief, and was a sweet gift to share with my friend. But, the more I learned about the song, and particularly the man behind the song, the greater gift was mine.
William Orcutt Cushing (1823 – 1902) was a trained Unitarian minister and life-long humanitarian. His story is filled with acts of kindness and service, such as giving away his life savings to a blind girl so that she could receive an education. At the age of 31, William met and married his sweetheart Hena Proper on Feb. 4, 1854. They were married for 16 happy years when Hena became very ill, and despite all efforts, she died.
This passage from his biography struck me:
After a long illness through which he cared tenderly for her, Mrs. Cushing died July 13, 1870. Soon after her death, a creeping paralysis seized upon Mr. Cushing, and he was compelled to retire from the ministry.
Could that “creeping paralysis” be something similar to the mystery illness our Daughter A has been struggling with the past 4 months?!
I was deeply moved by how Reverend Cushing chose to respond. Although suffering with the double loss of his sweet companion and the work of the ministry he loved, Cushing chose to praise God and continue to give service in a “musical ministry” capacity (something I can personally relate to). William O. Cushing would go on to compose many beloved Christian hymns. When he died at the age of 79, he left a legacy of over 300 compositions!
“poor in purse, but rich in spirit; homeless, but not friendless.”
I found a good rendition of the hymn “Under His Wings”, performed by the Alter of Praise Chorale and created into a video by SE Samonte.
Enjoy! – MoSop
UNDER HIS WINGS
Lyrics by William O. Cushing ~ Music by Ira D. Sankey
Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.
Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.