Whispering Hope

Since its publication in the late Nineteenth Century, the song, “Whispering Hope” has been a favorite of many Americans. To my dismay, that song is not in either of the hymnals that I personally own. Fortunately, it is all over the internet! There is no apparent hymn story behind the writing of the song. There is some information on the lyric writer and composer, Septimus Winner, who wrote and arrangement music prolifically. His father was a violin maker and Winner learned how to play all stringed instruments, wrote music for them, and gave music lessons to all ages on over 20 musical instruments. He wrote both religious and non religious music and was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1970—68 years after his death. Interestingly, most of his music was published under the name, Alice Hawthorne.

Although the lyrics to “Whispering Hope” are sometimes criticized as shallow, I find the lyrics do exactly as Winner intended: give hope. There is a scripture basis for the song in Hebrews 6:19 “. . . which hope we have as an anchor of the soul. . .” The content of that verse is written into the first lines of stanza three. Hope is not an abstract emotion. Hope is real. When someone seeks a counselor, that person is looking not only for a solution; that person, first of all, needs hope. Hope, indeed, is an anchor for the soul.

If you sing, then sing the words to the song, if not, enjoy them as poetry. Perhaps today, you need hope for some reason or another. Let the words sink into your soul!

Whispering Hope

Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion,
Whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the breaking of day,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.

(Refrain)
Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

If in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness,
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away,
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day.

(Refrain)

Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Wither the Master has entered,
Robbing the grave of its goal.
Come then, O come, glad fruition,
Come to my sad weary heart,
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
Never, oh never depart.

(Refrain)

In my research I found a story of a soldier who was wounded in the Korean War. While he lay with torturous pain, he heard the Andrews Sisters who recorded this song, and the words gave him courage to endure the misery. That is probably just one of many amazing times when the lyrics written by Septimus Winner gave hope with substance to a weary soul or suffering body—or both. In the midst of contemporary music, let’s not let this comforting melody and lyrics languish in a dusty archive. It needs only be sung, hummed, or played instrumentally.

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9 Comments

  1. I love that song! I’ve loved it since the first time i heard it as a new Christian in 1965. The melody gives as much comfort as the words. Thanks for posting…I’ll be humming it all night. 🙂

    • I heard it yesterday and have been humming and singing it since. Going to sing it at the nursing home study tomorrow. You are right, the melody is comforting as the lyrics.

  2. Glenda

    This has long been a favorite of mine, and I have never considered the lyrics as shallow. Another favorite of mine is “His Eye Is On the Sparrow,” but it was not written by this man you have mentioned. Whenever we are feeling a bit down in spirit, thinking of our blessed Hope will get us over the humps of life! Thank you for bringing this lovely hymn to our attention today!

  3. Did you sense this blog might be forthcoming when I found both instrumental and vocal arrangements of these last night and posted to fb?

    • Glenda

      Sort of…. 🙂

  4. A golden oldie. One of those songs in which the music and the words are a match made in heaven 🙂

  5. Darlington Mushongera

    I have managed to play a guitar fingerstyle arrangement of this song and it sounds great. I don’t believe that the words of the song are shallow. If fact they speak of the greatest mystery of Jesus and the depths of the reality of redemption.

  6. Steve

    Thanks for posting this. One of my grandmother’s favorite songs. She suffered great heartbreak in her life. She was only 10 when her mom passed.
    She married at 18 and lost her husband in a tragic accident at 19. Two months later their year old son died.
    She moved to restart her life, met my loving grandfather and soon gave birth to beautiful twin girls. One of which was my mom
    This is a much loved family song

    • Hope is an anchor to the soul isn’t it? Amazing life story. Thank you for sharing!

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