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!
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.
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.
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.
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.