One of my favorite hymns has an interesting Alabama connection. Robert Morgan recounts the story in his book, “Then Sings My Soul.”
One evening in 1887, Anthony Showalter, principal of a music school in Dalton, Ga., had just finished leading a singing school at a church in Hartselle, Ala. When he returned to the boardinghouse where he was staying, he discovered two letters which had been delivered to him. Both were from former students who had tragically lost their wives.
Seeking to provide comfort to the young men, Showalter’s mind went to Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” While pondering the verses, Showalter penned the now-familiar words, “Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.” After writing letters of comfort to the two young men, he wrote another letter to his friend Elisha Hoffman, a hymnwriter, asking for his help with the verses. Hoffman sent back three verses which Showalter set to music, providing us with the hymn of encouragement and cheer we sing today.
Reflecting on the same scripture, Charles Spurgeon wrote “Child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet underneath thee are everlasting arms.” Take comfort today in the fact that you can never sink so low that God’s strong and mighty arms will not be under you to lift you up.