Sunday, May 10, 2015

Shall We Gather at the River?



Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. - Revelation 22:1-2
Shall We Gather at the River?
By Robert Lowry
Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will talk and worship ever,
All the happy golden day.
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we every burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God
At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Savior’s face,
Saints, whom death will never sever,
Lift their songs of saving grace.
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
If you know his song, you most likely know it's title as "Shall We Gather at the River?" or simply "At the River." These titles are the popular names for the traditional Christian hymn that is actually titled "Hanson Place," written by American poet and gospel music composer Robert Lowry (1826–1899). Robert Lowry (1826-1899) was a professor of literature, a Baptist pastor of several large churches and a music editor at Biglow Publishing Company. He wrote close to 500 hymns, including "I Need Thee Every Hour" and "Low in the Grave He Lay."  "Shall We Gather at the River?" was written in 1864. The title "Hanson Place" is a reference to the original Hanson Place Baptist Church in Brooklyn, where Lowry, as a Baptist minister, sometimes served.
The song's lyrics refer to the Christian concept of the anticipation of restoration and reward, and reference the motifs found at Revelation 22:1-2 - a crystal clear river with water of life, issuing from the throne of heaven, all presented by an angel of God. One hot afternoon in July 1864, as Lowry was resting on his sofa, visions of heaven pervaded his senses. He saw the bright golden throne room and a multitude of saints gathered around the beautiful, cool, crystal, river of life. He was filled with a sense of great joy. He began to wonder why there seemed to be many hymns that referenced the river of death, but very few that mentioned the river of life. As he mused, the words and music to "Shall We Gather at the River" came to his heart and mind.

P.S. This song has a very special meaning for myself and someone very special in my life.  When I was thinking of a song to post, I came across this one (one of my all-time favorites), and I knew immediately that this was the perfect song to post about for today.
P.S.S.  I know that I have a few mothers who read my blog, and I wanted to say HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY to some truly remarkable women. May all mothers be celebrated on this day!

4 comments:

Susan said...

A truly moving hymn, Joe. Thank you for sharing this.

Jay M. said...

Beautiful hymn. Thank you for sharing.

Happy Mother's Day to you and yours!

Peace <3
Jay

Amanda said...

Hope your day was wonderful. I remember my mother singing this hymn when I was little. :)

Paul said...

I love that hymn. Thanks for sharing!