Wikipedia credits this hymn to Sarah Flower Adams who was inspired by the Biblical story of Jaccob’s dream recorded in Genesis 28:11-12. Jacob was running from his twin brother Esau who wanted to kill him because Jacob had not only “stolen” Esau’s birthright as the eldest son and eldest twin but also deceived their father thus receiving the paternal blessing. Jacob must cross the “wilderness” to his mother’s family. He lays down to sleep and dreams of a staircase going to heaven with angels ascending and descending.
The hymn is well known because it is believed to be the last song play by the band on RMS Titanic played before the ship sank. It is also credited as the song sung by the crew and passengers of the SS Valencia as it sank off the Canadian coast in 1906. Those facts I didn’t know or had forgotten.
I do know that we are entering the 40 days of Lent when we face our mortality and our fallibility. We, like Jacob, are not perfect and we will die. During Lent we look at the darker side of ourselves that we don’t want the world to see and our sins that sent Jesus to the cross. Our prayer through this time is that as we confess and mourn for our world, we will draw nearer to God, to the God who cared enough to come to us!