Giving up the Fame of this World
“... Henceforth . . . unto him, ...” (2 Cor 5:15).
The cemetery of an English town there is a tombstone which attracts the attention of many visitors. It marks the grave where the celebrated Swedish singer, Jenny Lind, known as the Swedish Nightingale, was buried, and upon the stone is the text, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
Jenny Lind was born in 1820. When only seventeen she came from her native land, and her lovely voice took the concert-loving people by storm. The good Queen Victoria often was found in her audience and signally honored “the slim girl with a marvelous voice,” as she was called, by throwing to her a bouquet of flowers. From the crowned heads of Europe Jenny Lind received honor, and gifts were showered upon her from all sides. Wealth poured in, but all her success did not make her proud or exacting, as is so often the case, and she humbly wrote to a friend in later years, “My unceasing prayer is that what I gave to my fellows may continue to live on through eternity and that the Giver of the gift and not the creature to whom He lent it may be acknowledged.”
A certain writer has remarked, “Nothing is more astonishing about the career of Jenny Lind than its comparative shortness. She sang in the English opera for only two years and retired practically in five years after her first appearance in London, though she appeared occasionally during the next few years, but chiefly for charities.”
To many it would seem strange circumstances which led a young girl to abandon such a promising career and retire to the quietness of an English country home. On one occasion she sat on the seashore, reading a Bible, when one who greatly admired her beautiful voice saw her and asked, “How is it, madam, that you abandoned the stage at the very height of your success?” Jenny Lind gave the following reason: “When every day it made me think less of this”— laying her hand upon the open Bible, “what else could I do?” What a beautiful answer and how convincing! It was the knowledge that this precious Book had brought her—the knowledge of a Saviour’s love which led her to abandon what the world counts of such value —riches, honor and popularity.
One of her great successes was in the oratorios in which she sang with deepest feeling “The Messiah,” and doubtless the words of it meant more to her than human voice could express. She knew the Lord Jesus as her Redeemer, the One who loved her and gave Himself for her, and that love constrained her to withdraw from the stage and henceforth live “unto Him who died and rose again.”
Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon the throne;
Hark, how the heavenly anthem drowns All music but His own:
Awake, my soul and sing Of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as the matchless King Through all eternity.
“May I not covet the world’s greatness if it cost me the crown of life!”
“And they sung a new song, ... Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Rev 5:9,12)