Author: Thomas Cosmades
Robert Harkness (1880-1961) was an Australian songwriter. In 1953 I met him at a church conference in Boston, Massachusetts. He was an impressive, warm Christian, quite typically Australian. He explained how he had come to write some of his songs, among them, “No Longer Lonely”. Sadly it has been relegated to the archives of unused hymns which uplift the heart. Having my roots in Turkey, I was well acquainted with the sad battle at Gallipoli, which, had it gone the other way, would have changed the course of history.
I took a great interest in what Mr. Harkness was saying: “It was only a few years after the end of the war and the end (1916) of the Gallipoli landing by the Anzacs and other expeditionary corps. I was part of the preaching team on tour in the outback of Australia with an evangelist. Following the evening meeting we were taken to a wealthy sheep station owner for overnight lodging. In the spacious living room was a beautiful piano. I walked over to it, thinking I would play a few hymns before we all retired. Abruptly, the lady of the house prevented me, “You cannot play this piano!” “Why not?” I asked in shock.
The lady went on to explain the sad story behind it. “My son was a student in the medical school of the university. He was also very good on the piano. He used to sit and play for hours at a time. The house was filled with music. Then one day, he was drafted and was sent to Gallipoli with the Anzacs, never to return. I can’t bear the thought of anyone playing our son’s piano. His memory is unforgettable and extremely painful for me.”
Mr. Harkness was taken aback. In an instant God told him how to cheer this grief-stricken mother. Opening his New Testament he read from I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.” Then they all bid good-night to each other. The next morning the lady cheerfully called them for breakfast and greeted them with, “I’m no longer lonely,” she said, “Jesus is the Friend of friends to me.” A note was struck in Mr. Harkness’ heart. “Please repeat what you just said,” he excitedly requested, and she did. “May I put it to music?” “Oh, please do!” Right then and there the piano which had been a dead monument came alive with the strains of “No Longer Lonely”. The words and music flowed from his pen onto the keys of the neglected piano, expressing the joy and hope of having Jesus as “the Friend of friends to me”.
When we visited the vast graveyards with innumerable tombs in Gallipoli, one epitaph bore this testimony: “He changed his khaki uniform for a robe of shining white”. Who knows how many of these young Anzac lads and other soldiers met their resurrected Savior as they were cut down by Ottoman bullets in the trenches. In His presence they have met loved ones who mourned their untimely passing.
No Longer Lonely
By Robert Harkness
- On life’s pathway I am never lonely, My Lord is with me, my Lord divine;
Ever present Guide, I trust Him only, No longer lonely, for He is mine.
- I shall not be lonely in my sorrow, He will sustain me until the end;
Darkest night He turns to brightest morrow, no longer lonely! He is my Friend.
- I shall not be lonely in the valley, Tho’ shadows gather, I will not fear;
He has promised ever to uphold me, No longer lonely! He will be near.
No longer lonely, No longer lonely, For Jesus is the Friend of friends to me;
No longer lonely, No longer lonely, For Jesus is the Friend of friends to me.