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Hymn: When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder

by PastorMinton on February 26th, 2016

When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder

Author: James M. Black (1893)
Typical Tune: James M. Black, Roll Call (1893)

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HYMN BACKGROUND

Black, a Meth­od­ist Sun­day school teach­er in Wil­liams­port, Penn­syl­van­ia, was call­ing roll one day for a youth meet­ing. Young Bes­sie, daugh­ter of a drunk­ard, did not show up, and he was dis­ap­point­ed at her fail­ure to ap­pear. Black made a com­ment to the ef­fect, “Well, I trust when the roll is called up yon­der, she’ll be there.” He tried to re­spond with an ap­prop­ri­ate song, but could not find one in his song book:

This lack of a fit­ting song caused me both sor­row and dis­ap­point­ment. An in­ner voice seemed to say, “Why don’t you write one?” I put away the thought. As I opened the gate on my way home, the same thought came again so strong­ly that tears filled my eyes. I en­tered the house and sat down at the pi­a­no. The words came to me ef­fort­less­ly…The tune came the same way—I dared not change a sin­gle note or word.

This song was sung in the Aca­de­my award win­ning mo­vie Ser­geant York (1941).

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LYRICS

1 When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Refrain

When the roll, is called up yonder,
When the roll, is called up yonder,
When the roll, is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

2 On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Refrain

3 Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Refrain

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COMMENTARY

As we go through Lent, why do we have yet another upbeat hymn? Aren’t all Lenten hymns supposed to be slow and dour?

However, this year we are looking at our Victory in Lent. Especially as we look back to yesterday’s Trinity Treat, we see the great victory God gives us as He gives us a new heart and new spirit.

This new heart and new spirit are given as the proof and guarantee that when Jesus calls the roll of the faithful on the Last Day you will be there. It is this assurance that lifts us through Lent so that we may see the final Easter with joy.

From → Hymnody

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