Sunday, July 7, 2013

An Arch of Promise Bright

Summer Sundays are always a good opportunity for a gospel song. Today's song, while no longer familiar to many, was produced by two very prolific writers, Emily Hewitt and Charles Gabriel.

Charles Gabriel spent most of his career in Chicago, where he worked in music publishing, eventually editing or compiling nearly a hundred songbooks, which generally contained some of his own compositions.   In 1912 he became associated with Homer Rodeheaver, who had a gospel music publishing firm, and was also the music director for Billy Sunday, a phenomenally popular touring revival preacher.  Rodeheaver used many of Gabriel's songs in Billy Sunday's services, which spread them to a wide audience.

Emily Hewitt was active in the Methodist Church in Philadelphia, superintendent of her congregation's large Sunday School.  Many of her songs, possibly including this one, were written for that assembly.

Be not weary or cast down,
When the heavens seem to frown,
There’s a rainbow on the cloud for you!
’Tis an arch of promise bright,
Earnest of unfading light
Pouring from a sky of radiant blue.

There’s a rainbow on the cloud for you,
There’s a promise that is sure and true;
Yes, the storm will pass away;
There will dawn a brighter day—
There’s a rainbow on the cloud for you.

Christ whose word rebuked the storm
Now is able to perform
Every word he whispers to your heart;
Wholly lean upon him, then,
For the sun will shine again,
And the shadows evermore depart.

There’s a rainbow on the cloud!
Tho’ your soul is sorrow-bowed,
Lift your voice to praise the Lord today;
There’s a rainbow ’round the throne;
In its glory we will own
That he led us in the perfect way.

Eliza E. Hewitt, 1914; alt.
Tune: RAINBOW ON THE CLOUD (7.7.8.D. with refrain)
Charles H. Gabriel, 1914

Both Hewitt and Gabriel were proficient at writing either the words or the music, or both.  They each produced so many songs, that, like Fanny Crosby, their publishers would bring out some of their material under pseudonyms so their songbooks would not appear to be overly full of any one person's contributions.

Three Years Ago: Charles A. Tindley

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