Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Flowers (23)

by E. A. Hoffman (1887)

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms. [Refrain]

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

REFRAIN:
Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

℘      ℘      ℘

Elisha Albright Hoffman (1839-1929) was an ordained minister who served many years in various churches and chapels in the Cleveland, Ohio area. He also edited fifty hymnals and wrote more than 2,000 gospel songs in his lifetime, including “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

The story behind this song is a rather interesting one, and it actually starts with Anthony Showalter, the composer. He was well known for his singing schools in local churches in Georgia, and he was fond of keeping in touch with his students as the years passed. One particular evening he received two letters from former students, both of whom had recently lost their wives. Mr. Showalter immediately sat down and searched for a verse of Scripture to send to comfort them. He chose Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” As he meditated on the verse, the following words came to mind:

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Mr. Showalter sent his replies to each of his former students, then he took out an additional piece of paper and wrote a letter to his hymnwriter friend Elisha Hoffman, telling him of the chorus he had just come up with, but saying that he did not have the stanzas to go along with it. Mr. Hoffman promptly wrote three stanzas and sent them back to Mr. Showalter, who then supplied the music, and a new hymn of comfort was born.

God, the eternal God, is our support at all times, especially when we are sinking into deep trouble. There are seasons when we sink quite low…. Dear child of God, even when you are at your lowest, underneath are the everlasting arms. —Charles Spurgeon

Credits:
Information from hymnary.org

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2003. pp. 218-219.

Photo taken in Brevard, North Carolina, 2017

 

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