True Grit Leaning On Everlasting Arms

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True Grit Leaning On Everlasting Arms

In the new Coen Brothers movie, True Grit, a tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer. From the beginning a haunting and beautifully orchestrated melody plays, one familiar to anyone raised on old gospel hymns ~ Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,leaning on the everlasting arms;
what a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning,leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.

The lyrics are drawn from Deuteronomy 33:27: 27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, ¢â‚¬ËœDestroy him!’

The philosophical Coen brothers, raised Jewish, know their Bible and they know a great story when they see it.

Interestingly,one line appears in three versions of “True Grit” (both movies & the Charles Portis’s True Grit novel): “You must pay for everything in this world one way and another. There is nothing free with the exception of God’s grace.”

Combining this line of narration with the musical variations of “leaning on the everlasting arms” is both subtle and brilliant.

The story behind the hymn is interesting too.

One day in 1887, after music class had been dismissed, Professor A.J. Showalter collected his books, locked up the church house and made his way across town to the boarding house where he had put up for his brief stay in Hartselle, Alabama. When he arrived, two letters from former students in South Carolina were waiting for him.

Showalter read the first letter. It bought the sad news that this student had just recently and suddenly lost his wife. The professor left the letter aside and decided to answer it later.

Opening the second one he found that it brought news identical to that of the first. What a tragic coincidence! Two former students had each been plunged into tragedy, through the same circumstances, and on the same day.

In an effort to console his two young friends Showalter wrote: “¢â‚¬ËœThe eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms’.” He paused, and put down his pen. In that single line of Scripture lay the theme of a great hymn. His pupils could read music, and they could sing ¢€œ for he had taught them. Then why not write them a song of comfort instead of a letter? Quickly he wrote the Chorus: Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

God’s grace is unmerited favor and each hero on True Grit is flawed yet lovable.

The Coen brothers get it and the result is an endearing set of interesting characters upheld by their true grit and the everlasting arms of grace.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in January 2, 2011 by | No Comments »

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