Save the Date!
Make plans now to attend KHCB’s annual Open House at the network headquarters in Houston. (2424 South Blvd, Houston, 77098)
This year Dr. Erwin Lutzer of "Running to Win" and "Songs in the Night" will be the special guest You are invited to come to meet and greet the staff, volunteers, Dr. Lutzer and the Houston area programmers on Sunday, October 30th from 1pm – 4pm CST. No reservations are necessary - just come October 30th for a fun afternoon of fellowship. We look forward to seeing you!
"Keeping the Hymns Close By"
Near to the Heart of God
Author - and Composer - Cleland B. McAfee, 1866 - 1944
The hymn was written in 1896
“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you ...”
This hymn was born out of tragic circumstances. Cleland McAfee suffered the loss of two infant nieces to diphtheria in September, 1896.
McAfee was preacher and choir director of the campus Presbyterian church at Park College, Parkville, MO. His daughter described the account in her book, Near to the Heart of God. Hymnologist William J. Reynolds quotes the account:
"The family and town were stricken with grief. My father often told us how he sat long and late thinking of what could be said in word and song on the coming Sunday... So he wrote the little song. The choir learned it at the regular Saturday night rehearsal, and afterward they went to Howard McAfee's home and sang it as they stood under the sky outside the darkened, quarantined house. It was sung again on Sunday morning at the communion service..." The hymn was first included in The Choir Leader, October, 1903.
A characteristic of gospel hymns of this era, especially those that employ and intimate language to express the relationship between the believer and God, is to repeat a short phrase several times, allowing the message to burrow deeper in the psyche of the singer and to plant a little kernel of truth. In this case the repeated phrase is "near to the heart of God", which appears 12 times if all stanzas are sung and the refrain repeated after each stanza.
Uncharacteristic of gospel hymns, however, is that this hymn describes the "place of quiet rest" in the third person. Almost invariably, other hymn writers from this era in the United States and Great Britain express their relationship to God in the first person.
Cleland Boyd McAfee was a native of Missouri, graduating from Park College. He returned to his alma mater following study at Union Theological Seminary, New York, to teach and pastor the campus church as well as direct its choir from 1888 - 1901. After serving congregations in Chicago and Brooklyn (1901 - 1912), McAfee was appointed professor of systematic theology at McCormick Theological Seminary (1912-1930) and also served as secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions (1930-1936). He authored the treatise, "the Greatest English Classic: A Study of the King James Version of the Bible and its influence on Life and Literature".
He also penned other hymns of lesser note, including "Let Us Watch and Pray in our Master's Name (1917), a song about the second coming.
"Near to the Heart of God," a simple hymn, expresses in a profound way the admonition of James 4:8, "Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you."
Used by permission from "History of Hymns" by Dr. C. Michael Hawn, Director of the Sacred Music Program and Distinguished Professor, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
This book, written by Dolly Martin Monroe in 1997, chronicles the beginning of Houston's first Christian radio station. It contains barriers, obstacles, and financial difficulties through which the Lord navigated this ministry.
We invite you to read our testimony in the hope it may increase your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His ability to provide for the needs of those who are His.
Smartphone Apps Available for Download
KHCB's Apps for Android and Apple products are available for download. There is no charge for either app. Thanks to Luis Ortega for the design and labor in putting these together.
Note For Recurring Donations
If you would like to set up recurring or automatic donations to KHCB, please call the KHCB Office and speak to Carole. She will set up an account where donations can be automatically allocated to KHCB. The number is 713-520-5200 in the Houston area, and toll free 1 (888) 777-5422.
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