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"Like a River Glorious" -- A Hymn Love Story

Updated on August 1, 2013

For those that LOVE "Like a River Glorious"

Welcome -- here you'll find links to free sheet music, chords, and lyrics for "Like a River Glorious," along with YouTube videos, back stories, and side stories -- all free!

River Fluvia, Spain -- from Wamito and Wikimedia Commons

My name is Deeann D. Mathews, and you've landed on one of the many pages I am putting up about my favorite hymns. In one of my many other lives, I am the Creative Director of Praising Pilgrims Music, a little music publishing company that has brought the world The Free HIMbook, a directory of links to free sheet music (chords coming soon) for more than 400 hymns. Here's the secret: I am a hymn NUT, and I'd like you to share my passion with me. So, here is a little offering, a little sacrifice of fellowship and doing good toward God and toward you all around this beautiful hymn, "Like a River Glorious." Enjoy!

(the first image -- that "heavenly heart" -- was created by Paul B. Roman, and can be freely and legally accessed at commons.wikimedia.org -- search for Plismo!)

"Like A River Glorious" YouTube - A powerful presentation, but then . . .

. . . you wouldn't expect the peace of God to be weak anyway, would you?

Enjoy the North Valley Baptist Men's Choir singing this wonderful hymn -- turn it on and listen while you read!

"Like a River Glorious," YouTube too - By your humble lensmistress . . .

Enjoy this mellow instrumental take . . . turn it on and listen while you read!

Back Story and Ramblings

Excerpted from "The Singing Devotional," Vol. 1

Falls of the Bow River, Banff, Alberta -- from the Library of Congress and Flickr

"Like a River Glorious" has its roots in Ezekiel 47:1-9, which is one of the visions the prophet Ezekiel saw concerning the wonderful future days in which the Lord Jesus Christ puts His royal headquarters on the earth. Revelation 22:1-2 mentions that a "pure river of water of life" will run out from His throne, and Ezekiel gives us some interesting details:

Ezekiel 47:1-6

1 Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.

2 Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

3 And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.

4 Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

5 Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

6 And he said unto me, "Son of man, hast thou seen this?" Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.

Ezekiel is asked "Hast thou seen this?" for a good reason - for the river proceeding from the throne of God behaves differently from all other rivers. Normally, a river that has only one source gets shallower as it gets further from the source; the sun's constant evaporation of water from the earth's surface removes a great quantity of water, and plant usage also takes a considerable amount. And, generally, the broader a river is, the more surface area is subject to evaporation. So, naturally speaking, a river newly springing up from a single source would get more and more shallow the farther it went, particularly if the river somehow became very broad. Not so the river Ezekiel steps into. This river is very broad -- a cubit is about 1.5 feet, and the angel brings Ezekiel a thousand cubits into the river four times. Therefore he travels a distance of 6,000 feet -- more than a mile -- and found that the water was much, much deeper at that point than it was at the beginning. He had gone from "Wade in the Water" to needing his swimming suit, and found the water so deep and strong that he could not pass over it to the other side.

But wait; there's more!

Willamette River, Oregon -- from Oregon State University and Flickr

Ezekiel 47:7-9

7 Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

8 Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

9 And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

If you read through the book of Revelation carefully, you will see that great damage is done to the planet during the time of judgment God will bring upon those who continue in their rebellion against Him. Of great importance is that all of the earth's water - all of the oceans, rivers, and fountains - are turned to blood in Revelation 16:-2-6. Forget the "gross-out" element -- this judgment by itself would put an end to life on earth if God permitted it to continue for long, for not only would there not be water to drink, but the entire hydrologic cycle - oceanic currents, evaporation of water vapor and its effects on wind, cloud formation, and rain - would be severely disrupted if not destroyed! But, the converse is also true; once the planet's water and hydrologic cycle were restored, the planet would again support life. Thus the significance of Ezekiel 47:7-9 - the waters described here flow into the sea, and the seas touch every coast. And thus, the river from the throne of God will have a large role in renovating and renewing the entire planet.

From this background Francis R. Havergal drew her beautiful analogy of the peace of God given to us in the first verse of "Like a River Glorious":

Like a river glorious, is God's perfect peace,

Over all victorious, in its bright increase;

Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,

Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

It is an apt analogy . . . for no matter the wreck we make of ourselves and our lives, when we turn to Him, He does give us His peace, as He says in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." And the longer you know Him, the deeper the peace becomes - opposite how it is so often when we meet people, and the more we know, the less peace we have . . .

God's peace is not like our peace - we have what passes for peace only when we think everything is going to be all right, when we understand what is going on. But His peace remains with us even when our situation would suggest otherwise.

Philippians 4:6-7

6. Be careful [we would use the word "anxious"] for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

And thus Ms. Havergal gave us the wonderful refrain:

Refrain

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest

Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

The promise referenced is from Isaiah 26:3: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because He trusteth in Thee."

Colorado River -- from Library of Congress and Flickr

I'll start . . .

In just this past twelve months I have been through financial dislocation and the sudden death of someone very close to me, as well as a change in employment to an environment very hostile to the claims of Christ. And yet . . . although I have grieved deeply, and struggled mightily, God has proven Himself to me, not least in causing His peace to rule in my heart. I have of course had my times of getting my eyes off of Him and freaking out . . . but when He has lifted my eyes back to Him (you know how someone who loves you and knows you really well might put their hand under your chin and gently turn your face to look at them? That’s a good analogy for what I mean), I have found that His peace was still wonderfully available. The thing to learn is not to look away from Him! I rejoice that I am getting such an excellent lesson; for truly, He keeps His word, and His peace is FOR REAL.

Your turn . . .

What's your story about the peace of God? - Share your story here!

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    But before you have peace FROM God . . . - . . . you need to have peace WITH God

    My beloved grandmother left me this fine book by the renowned evangelist Billy Graham, who spent his life letting people know how the peace of God is available for anybody who would receive it, and how to get it . . . if you are reading what I have written and thinking, "I need to have peace, but I'm not sure about this whole Christianity bit," give Rev. Graham a chance to explain! You won't regret it!

    Peace with God: The Secret Happiness
    Peace with God: The Secret Happiness

    My beloved grandmother left me this fine book by the renowned evangelist Billy Graham, who spent his life letting people know how the peace of God is available for anybody who would receive it, and how to get it . . . if you are reading what I have written and thinking, "I need to have peace, but I'm not sure about this whole Christianity bit," give Rev. Graham a chance to explain! You won't regret it! If you are a Christian, you will still be blessed by this book even as my grandmother and I have been . . . or, maybe pass it on to someone else!

     

    "I'm Already a Christian, But . . ." - Still not enjoying all that peace you have from God?

    Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind
    Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind

    A good friend sent me this book, and I was like . . . "A two-million copy bestseller? Well, I'd better pay attention -- two million people PLUS my friend can't be wrong." I've now read Battlefield of the Mind several times, and it has been a blessing . . . Ms. Joyce Meyer not only outlines how you can enjoy the peace God wants you to have, but shows you the habits of mind most of us have that are getting in the way. I recommend you put this book on one side of you and a Bible on the other -- Ms. Meyer's book is a handbook of encouraging Scriptures, and it will bless you to line up what she says with what God says as you go!

     

    Related Story: Rivers Behaving Badly

    All rivers aren't exactly heavenly at all times . . .

    Of course, there are those times when rivers look a little less like the beautiful examples above, and a little more like this one:

    Flood in Pique, France, 1897 -- from Bibliothéque de Toulouse and Flickr

    And they leave things looking a bit like this:

    Flood Debris -- from State Library of Queensland, Australia, and Flickr

    And sometimes life is like that as well, which may be why the second verse of "Like a River Glorious" goes on to say . . .

    Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,

    Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;

    Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,

    Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

    The Lord has a word for us about this in Isaiah 43:2: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."

    And, the Lord says, a little later in the Book . . .

    John 16:33 - "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

    Hence the last verse of this glorious hymn . . .

    Every joy or trial falleth from above,

    Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;

    We may trust Him fully all for us to do.

    They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

    On that day that those that love the Lord stand on the street of gold in Glory, as the river of God flows down, we will be able to sing Psalm 66:12: "Thou hast caused men to rise over our heads" - now that's persecution - "we went through fire and through water: but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place." Assuredly, that is the end to which God is leading us, though the path may have as many bends as a winding river, and as many ups and downs. He has promised us His perfect peace, all the way, as we put our minds on and trust in Him . . . and that is the message of "Like a River Glorious."

    Learn about "Like a River Glorious" author - . . . with three more powerful Christian women thrown in!

    In Trouble and in Joy: Four Women Who Lived for God
    In Trouble and in Joy: Four Women Who Lived for God

    Frances Ridley Havergal only lived to be 43 years old, and never saw most of her poems and hymns published. But, her love and witness and art for the Lord continues to impact the world for His glory in all kinds of ways (consider this Web page, for example)! Her story is one of what God can do with a person weak in body but strong in faith in just a few years. If you've ever thought, "My youth, my physical problems, or my not being a high-profile woman will hold me back in God's service" -- some of which thoughts I admit to having at times -- the story of Frances Havergal and three other powerful Christian women will be a great help to you!

     

    "Like a River Glorious" recordings - Sing-along time!

    Here are some lovely, powerful collections of hymns upon which "Like a River Glorious" is featured . . . enjoy!

    More Than 50 Most Loved Hymns
    More Than 50 Most Loved Hymns

    Trust me -- it's not "just" another collection of hymns. Youv'e got the London Festival Orchestra and the Thomas/Cumberland choir going all out on this one! "Like a River Glorious" is track no. 8 on the first disc -- enjoy!

     
    100 Inspirational Hymns
    100 Inspirational Hymns

    This is the intimate, small-group-and-piano sound of the Joslin Grove Choral Society -- clear harmonies and fervent singing are the order of the day. "Like a River Glorious" is track no. 16 on this one -- enjoy!

     

    The exit ticket . . .

    With a famous bonus Scripture . . .

    Suwanee River -- from State Library and Archives of Florida, and Flickr

    Peace . . . the whole world longs for it, and there is enough on offer from God for all who believe on Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who IS our peace with God, and through Whom we can say . . .

    Psalm 23

    1. The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

    2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

    3. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

    4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

    5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

    6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

    Security, protection, abundance . . . and peace, past, present, and future. That is the promise of God to His own, in His Word, and beautifully echoed in "Like a River Glorious."

    Sunset on the Nile -- from the Brooklyn Museum and Flickr

    "Like a River Glorious" lyrics

    Get it all right here!

    Lyrics by Frances Ridley Havergal, music by James Mountain (Wye Valley), 1876

    Like a river glorious, is God's perfect peace,

    Over all victorious, in its bright increase;

    Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,

    Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

    Refrain

    Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest

    Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

    Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,

    Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;

    Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,

    Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

    Refrain

    Every joy or trial falleth from above,

    Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;

    We may trust Him fully all for us to do.

    They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

    Refrain

    And, if you want to know when the next hymn page comes out, drop me some way to get in touch with you . . .

    There may also be a collector's book of these pages, eventually . . . stay tuned . . .

    Talk to me, people! - Share your thoughts here!

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