We have sung our songs of victory,
We have prayed to You for rain;
We have cried for Your compassion
To renew the land again.
Now we’re standing in Your presence,
More hungry than before;
Now we’re on Your steps of mercy,
And we’re knocking at Your door.
How long before You drench the barren land?
How long before we see Your righteous hand?
How long before Your name is lifted high?
How long before the weeping turns to songs of joy?
Lord, we know Your heart is broken
By the evil that You see,
And You’ve stayed Your hand of judgement
For You plan to set men free.
But the land is still in darkness,
And we’ve fled from what is right;
We have failed the silent children
Who will never see the light.
But I know a day is coming
When the deaf will hear His voice,
When the blind will see their Saviour,
And the lame will leap for joy.
When the widow finds a Husband
Who will always love His bride,
And the orphan finds a Father
Who will never leave her side.
How long before Your glory lights the skies?
How long before Your radiance lifts our eyes?
How long before Your fragrance fills the air?
How long before the earth resounds with songs of joy?
The story behind this song
This song was an attempt to echo a cry expressed in a number of places in the Psalms. I find it very striking that the ‘hymn book of the Old Testament’ expresses a much broader range of emotion than most of our modern songbooks: it seems the psalmist was not afraid to express to God his sorrows, his anger, his disappointments as well as his joy in song – and perhaps we should do the same.
But I also wanted to follow the pattern of the Psalms by seeing our present sufferings in the context of the big picture – that life will not always be like this. So the final verse of the song longs for the day when the pain of the afflicted, the widow, the orphan will cease, when God finally and fully dwells among His people in a new heaven and a new earth.