“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporal, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” II Corinthians 4:16-18 (NRSV)
This hymn was written in 1986, the year I graduated from Columbia Seminary. It first had life as an anthem and later was adapted as a hymn. It has been written that Natalie Sleeth, the composer and author of Hymn of Promise was inspired by a line from the poet T. S. Eliot: “In my end is my beginning.” Shortly after its completion, the author’s husband was diagnosed with cancer and the original anthem version was sung at his funeral. I was unaware of this hymn until sometime in the early to mid-1990s when I attended the funeral of a Presbyterian minister in Virginia and heard it for the first time. I was immediately struck by its beauty and simplicity as well as the sound theology included in its lyrics.
“In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”
While it has become a hymn of choice for many funeral or memorial services, it has been placed in the section, “Jesus Christ: Resurrection” of our newest hymnbook, Glory to God The Presbyterian Hymnal. This hymn had also gained some popularity at First Presbyterian as I had often included it as a hymn for our Bright Sunday celebrations. As a result it was included in the Treasured Hymns and New Songs of Faith our church compiled to supplement The Presbyterian Hymnal Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, found in our pew pockets. This hymn was included in our newest collection Glory to God. For the season of Easter, for funerals and memorial services, and indeed, for anytime when we wish to affirm our belief in Christ’s resurrection from the dead and our hope to share that future, In the Bulb There Is a Flower is a great choice of a hymn!
Creator and Redeemer, we thank You for the crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, irises, and tulips that spring from bulbs. We thank You for the Ambrosia, Delicious, Gala, Honeycrisp, and MacIntosh apple trees that emerge from seeds to bear their fruits. We thank You for butterflies that break out of the darkness of their cocoons and fly into the bright sunlight. We thank You for these visual images from nature reminding us of the glorious resurrection and life that awaits those who die in Christ. In His name, we pray. Amen.