NEAR TO THE HEART OF GOD written in 1903
Cleland McAfee (1866-1944) was preacher and choir director of the campus Presbyterian church at Park College, Parkville, Missouri.
Cleland had received the unexpected and tragic news that his brother and sister-in-law had had lost both of their daughters to diphtheria within 24 hours of each other. He was grief-stricken. He was asked to say a few words of comfort at the funeral, and also to sing a solo. He couldn’t think of anything to say or to sing. But his mind went to verses in Psalms that brought comfort and rest to those who sought refuge in the Lord. As he meditated further, he wrote the words and music to this simple hymn, “Near to the Heart of God”.
At the double funeral, outside the darkened, quarantined house of his brother, Cleland, with a voice filled with emotion, sang this hymn publicly for the first time. The following Sunday, his church choir sang it from his handwritten copy.
Read this story, and – today – find the security that comes with being near to the heart of God.
There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest, near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God,
hold us who wait before Thee near to the heart of God.
There is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet, near to the heart of God. (Refrain)
There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God.
A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God. (Refrain)