Saturday, December 1, 2012

One Day – John Wilbur Chapman

He could have been mulling over the momentous days in his own life, but he wasn’t. John Wilbur Chapman was instead thinking about the days in the life of God, the days that He let us mere humans observe. Perhaps it was therapeutic for Chapman to think in this way, a way that diverted his attention from himself perhaps, and gave him hope for the future during the first decade of the 20th Century when he composed the words for “One Day”. He’d had plenty of ups and downs, and so it probably made sense for Chapman to draw strength for life from the One who had lived his up and down days too, and overcame.

J. Wilbur Chapman was a notable evangelist during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries across North America and Asia who helped rescue thousands, even as he himself fought personal struggle. During the time that he composed the poem “One Day” in 1908, he’d been intent on spreading God’s message himself in many places in the U.S. or had been organizing the activities of others who were speaking across the country. He was also nearing 50 years old and had just suffered the death of his second wife in 1907.  So, here’s a guy who must have felt snake-bitten in some way, right? He was trying to spread the Divine message, ‘so why isn’t God protecting my family?’, he might have asked. He could have retreated in crisis-mode. Instead, maybe it dawned on Chapman that God didn’t protect His own family, really. He sent his special son Jesus to die, after all. And so, Chapman’s poetry seems to be a reflection on what it was like to be the God-Son and walk in His shoes. It’s not a worn-out message that’s been forgotten one hundred years after Chapman penned the words, either. The group Casting Crowns re-birthed the song in 2009 and called it “Glorious Day”. Its draw for one of the group’s members, Mark Hall, is probably the same as it was for the original author. The entire message of God, Hall says, is contained in the song’s chorus. He acknowledges the hymn has been a favorite from his childhood for this reason. Perhaps its compact message – God lived for me, died for me, took away my penalty for sin, rose to make a home for me, and will come back to get me – is what Chapman was looking for in his evangelism campaigns too. Yeh, my own life’s not been tragedy-free, but how do they compare to what God’s days have been like?

Chapman reminds us that God’s had several days that no human has ever experienced. He left heaven, came to earth as a virgin-born baby, was treacherously convicted of a capital crime and murdered, and yet rose from a grave. Those were four pretty unique days, spread out over 30-something years. Who but Him could have lived them? And, there’s still one more to come, where I’ll be more than just a spectator. Ever wonder what it would be like to take part in a God-day? That kind of day revolves around Him and His agenda. In fact, He created that day. Like it or not, everyone will take part in that day, called Judgment Day (see picture). Ready or not, here He comes.  
Some information on the composer was obtained from the book “Then Sings My Soul”, by Robert J. Morgan, 2003, Thomas Nelson, Inc.   

Information on a contemporary song based on “One Day” by Chapman is “Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns that is found at this site:  

Story of Casting Crowns song:

Also see this site for some information on the song “One Day”:

For biography of composer see:

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