Time is filled with swift transition.
Naught of earth unmoved can stand.
Build your hopes on things eternal.
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
Before taking us to Asia as missionaries in 1961, my father traveled all over the United States raising money for the effort. He was often told: “Don’t forget the folks back home,” and to be sure he didn’t, churches would make tapes of congregational singing and give them to him. On one of those tapes, from a church in Florida, was this hymn. It’s where I learned it. Dad loved it and we’d often sing it as a family.
Churches don’t sing it much anymore and so it remained but a memory until 2010 and the remake of the movie “True Grit.” As I listened to the sound track (music only), I recognized the tune and the words came back in a flood of memories. I used that sound track at my father’s funeral.
Though the words were written by Jennie Wilson (1856-1913), the music that made it popular was composed by F.L. Eiland (1860-1909) who wrote some 300 hymns himself during his short life. Eiland, a member of the Church of Christ, lived in Texas and established a singing school in Waco, attended by (among others) Tillit S. Teddlie (who wrote “Heaven Holds All to Me” and many others).
Chances are, some of you know the Ray Charles song “You Don’t Know Me” (also covered by Meryl Streep) or the Dean Martin song “In the Misty Moonlight” or Roy Orbison’s “Dream Baby.” All these and more were written by Cindy Walker – who was F.L. Eiland’s grandaughter.
Eiland also wrote “Look Away From The Cross” but my favorite remains “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand.”
Trust in Him who will not leave you
Whatsoever years may bring.
Fair and bright the home in glory
Your enraptured soul will view.