Hymn of Promise

Natalie Sleeth (1939-1992) began piano lessons at the age of four, gaining a music degree from Wellesley College and an honourary doctorate from West Viriginia Wesleyan College. With over 180 published works, she is considered one of the 20th Century’s most loved composers for children, working for many years at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Texas. Natalie wrote about inspiration for this hymn by “pondering the death of a friend (life and death, death and re­sur­rec­tion), pon­der­ing win­ter and spring (seem­ing op­po­sites), and a T. S. Eliot poem which had the phrase ‘in our end is our be­gin­ning’. These seem­ing­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry pairs led to the the­sis of the song and the hope­ful message that out of one will come the oth­er, when­ev­er God choos­es to bring that about”. Her husband first heard his wife’s hymn shortly before his death and asked it to be sung at his funeral1.

In the bulb there is a flower;
In the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise:
Butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter
There’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence,
Seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness,
Bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future;
What it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season,
Something God alone can see.

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 it’s season,
Something God alone can see.

1page 91 – Leeman, D. and Leeman, B., 2022. Our Hymns, Our Heritage: A Student Guide to Songs of the Church

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