How the Christian greats can help us usher in a new year

Yesterday I told my husband that the ideal New Year’s Eve would be to be part of a group at some kind of picturesque artists’ retreat where a gifted facilitator would take a group through a series of profound exercises designed to help me reflect on the year behind me and embrace the one ahead.

We’d pray and we’d have a glass of champagne to toast to the new year and then we’d head to bed for the best night’s sleep of our lives.

Not even the champagne could redeem my vision, he said.

In my romantic vision, this would all take place around a campfire, which is ridiculous, obviously, given that I live in Australia, where it’s the middle of summer and there’s a total fire ban as bushfires ravage our country.

But my envisioning of the role of a group facilitator was more realistic. This year, I kinda need someone who can guide me through the type of deep reflection I know I need but feel too tired to embark upon.

My introverted husband immediately informed me that he could not imagine a worse way to spend New Year’s Eve if he tried. Not even the champagne could redeem my vision, he said, as we both laughed.

Unsurprisingly, I discovered my historical brothers and sisters in Christ had already done the heavy lifting

This morning, in a slightly less sentimental but similar vein, I went looking for resources.

Unsurprisingly, I discovered my historical brothers and sisters in Christ had already done the heavy lifting.

Hence, this article compiles four hymns and one sermon by some of Christianity’s most influential wordsmiths, written to mark the occasion of one year’s end and another’s beginning. Perhaps Charles Wesley, Francis Havergal and Charles Spurgeon might prove helpful ‘group facilitators’ for others, too.

And, whether you be reading them fireside at an artists’ retreat (and if you are, please invite me next year), on your phone in a hospital, on a beach, or in an evacuation centre, anywhere in between… from all of us at Eternity, Happy New Year.

Another year is dawning! Dear Father, let it be on earth, or else in heaven, another year for thee – Frances R. Havergal, 1874

Another year is dawning by Frances R. Havergal, 1874

Another year is dawning! Dear Father, let it be,
in working or in waiting, another year with thee;
another year of leaning upon thy loving breast,
another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace;
another year of gladness in the shining of thy face;
another year of progress, another year of praise,
another year of proving thy presence all the days.

Another year of service, of witness for thy love;
another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning! Dear Father, let it be
on earth, or else in heaven, another year for thee.

Standing at the portal by Frances R. Havergal, 1873.

Standing at the portal
Of the opening year,
Words of comfort meet us,
Hushing every fear;

Spoken thru the silence
By our Savior’s voice,
Tender, strong and faithful,
Making us rejoice.

Onward, then, and fear not,
Children of the day;
For His Word shall never,
Never pass away.

I, the Lord, am with thee,
Be thou not afraid;
I will help and strengthen
Be thou not dismayed.

Yea, I will uphold thee
With My own right hand;
Thou art called and chosen
In My sight to stand.

For the year before us,
O what rich supplies!
For the poor and needy
Living streams shall rise;

For the sad and sinful
Shall His grace abound;
For the faint and feeble
Perfect strength be found.

He will never fail us,
He will not forsake;
His eternal covenant
He will never break.

Resting on the promise,
What have we to fear?
God is all sufficient
For the coming year.

Come, let let us anew our journey pursue by Charles Wesley, published 1750

Come, let us anew
Our journey pursue,
Roll round with the year,
And never stand still till the Master appear.

The arrow is flown,
The moment is gone;
The millennial year
Rushes on to our view, and eternity’s here.

O that each in the day
of His coming may say,
“I have fought my way through,
I have finished the work thou didst give me to do!”

O that each from his Lord
May receive the glad word,
“Well and faithfully done!
Enter into my joy, and sit down on my throne.

Join, all ye ransomed sons of grace by Charles Wesley published 1742

Join, all ye ransomed sons of grace,
The holy joy prolong,
And shout to the Redeemer’s praise
A solemn midnight song.

Blessing, and thanks, and love, and might,
Be to our Jesus given,
Who turns our darkness into light,
Who turns our hell to heaven.

Thither our faithful souls he leads,
Thither he bids us rise,
With crowns of joy upon our heads,
To meet him in the skies.

Sermon for a Watch-Night service by Charles Spurgeon

“If it be enquired why I held a Watch-night, let the answer be—because I hoped that the Lord would own the service, and thus souls might be saved. I have preached at all hours the gospel of Jesus, and I see no reason why I may not preach at midnight, if I can obtain hearers. I have not done it from imitation, but for the best of reasons—the hope of doing good, and the wish to be the means of gathering in the outcasts of Israel. God is my witness, I would preach every hour of the day, if body and mind were equal to the task.

“When I consider how souls are being damned and how few there are who mourn and cry over them, I am constrained to cry with Paul, “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.” Oh, that the new year may be far better than the last…”. (Click here to read and listen to full sermon).