In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

On Eagles' Wings

Maybe I should rename this blog Sacred Music Central! I got another request to post about a hymn, this time from a good family friend, Georgia Voss. The hymn is On Eagles' Wings, composed by Roman Catholic priest Jan Michael Joncas in 1979, after the Church began using vernacular hymns at Mass. The lyrics of On Eagles' Wings are loosely based on Isaiah 40:31 ("But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.") and especially on Psalm 91, the "Psalm of Protection," which is commonly invoked in times of hardship.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;
nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand;
but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder:
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him:
I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

What a precious promise we have from the Lord! And here are the inspiring lyrics to On Eagles' Wings, which echo this message:
You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
Who abide in His shadow for life,
Say to the Lord, "My Refuge,
My Rock in Whom I trust."

And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
And famine will bring you no fear;
Under His Wings your refuge,
His faithfulness your shield.


You need not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day,
Though thousands fall about you,
Near you it shall not come.

As with the Psalms on which it's based, this hymn conveys the priceless message that our God will never fail us! He'll never put before us a challenge we cannot surmount, as long as we keep faith in Him. With God's help, nothing is impossible! And there is nothing to fear, for He is always by our side.

Here is a beautiful rendition of On Eagle's Wings, including the lyrics:

And here is another moving presentation, composed as a tribute to a young girl who passed away before her time:

Thank you, Georgia, for this wonderful suggestion!


It's A Wonderful said...

I love this section of your blog! I am racking my brain for my favorite hymn, but it escapes me! I need to peruse the hymnal at mass, but I never have enough time! It will come to me.

"On Eagles Wings" is often sung at a funeral's so hopeful and trusting.

Anonymous said...

I remember singing this hymn often in the RCC choir way back when. I think it was sung at my father's funeral--but I'm not sure.