We Rest On Thee

We Rest On Thee (iTunes)
Words by Edith Cherry, Music by Jean Sibelius
From the album Sibelius: Tone Poems & Symphonies 5-7 (ProArte Records)

Edith Cherry (1872-1897) wrote two volumes of hymns during her short life. Living in Plymouth, England, she was known as being physical frail, but gentle, bright, and winsome in spirit. She wrote "We Rest On Thee" around 1895, basing the title and theme on 2 Chronicles 14:11, in which King Asa cries out to God in the midst of battle, saying, "...help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude" (KJV).

The tune comes from an orchestral work by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), entitled Finlandia. This week's recording is the orchestral piece in its entirety as performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (the hymn tune comes in at 4:48).

"We Rest On Thee" has become associated with the martyrdom of Jim Elliot and his four fellow missionaries in January 1956. The men sang the hymn together before entering the Ecuadorian jungle to bring the Gospel to the Auca Indians. Jim's wife, Elisabeth, wrote an account of Operation Auca, which she entitled, "Through Gates of Splendor," from the fourth verse of the hymn.