By Patrick Hawthorne
If that song runs through my mind once more, I think I will gag!” In the Sweet By and By… Whenever I hear that song, my mind conjures up memories of old spaghetti westerns. It never fails; a small group of church goers is singing that song as if they are approaching their end while on a death march.
Why can’t I get that tune out of my brain? It keeps playing like an old record with a bad skip. Well, I did ask the Holy Spirit to give me a subject to write about so maybe, just maybe, He wants me to investigate this song. “Ok, Lord. I will look into it.”
Well…What do you know? In the Sweet By and BY was written by S. Fillmore Bennett in response to a rather sour attitude by his musician friend, Joseph P. Webster. Apparently Webster was the type person who suffered from major bouts of depression. The bouts were so common that Bennett could tell at a glance what type mood his musician friend would be in. According to Bennett’s biography, he attributed Webster’s depressed attitude to his sensitivity as a musician. I don’t know if I buy into that argument, but either way, Webster had the tendency to be a downer.
One particular day Webster came to Bennett’s place of business. Glancing up, Bennett was quickly able to determine that his friend was in another of his foul moods.
“Webster,” Bennett sighed. “What is the matter now?”
“It’s no matter,” Webster replied. “It will be all right by and by.”
“By and by?” That simple phrase lit into Bennett’s spirit like a pig to a mud hole. Heading quickly to his desk, Bennett grabbed his quill and began to pen the words to a new song. A few minutes were all that was needed to produce the words to a new hymn.
There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.
We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.
To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love
And the blessings that hallow our days.
After reading the lyrics, I confess that I still do not like the musical aspect of the song. However, I do see the beauty of the message behind the lyrics. As aliens and strangers of this world, our hardships are but for a moment. Instead of placing our focus on the obstacles and challenges we currently face, let us look forward, by faith, to that time when we will be forever with our Heavenly Father….In the sweet by and by. Be blessed.