Posted by: rcottrill | June 21, 2010

Today in 1836 – Sanford Bennett Born

Musician Joe Webster had a chronic problem. He was subject to bouts of emotional depression. But his good friend, Sanford Bennett, knew how to help him at such times. Before he finished medical training and became a physician, Sanford Fillmore Bennett was a town druggist. And one day in 1868, Webster entered his establishment, carrying his violin. Without a word of greeting, he walked over to the old stove that heated the place, and stood with his back to Bennett.

“Webster, what’s the matter now?” Sanford said, kindly. “It’s no matter,” was the despondent reply. “It’ll be all right by and by.” Latching on to that last phrase, Sanford Bennett got an idea. A prescription that had often helped his friend in times of distress. He found that if he could suggest an interesting theme for a new piece of music, it helped to bring Webster out of his dark moods. “Sweet by and by!” said the druggist. “Would that not make a good hymn?” “Maybe it would,” answered the musician, without much enthusiasm.

But Bennett started working at his desk on a short poem. He tells us, “I penned the words as fast as I could write.” When he handed the lines of verse to Webster, he could see a spark of life come into his friend’s eyes. Taking up his violin, he alternately played and jotted down notes of music.

The creation of the song, words and music, took only thirty minutes. Finally, the two men called over a couple of acquaintances, and they sang the hymn “Sweet By and By” for the first time. Someone just entering the store stood listening to the impromptu quartet. With tears in his eyes he exclaimed afterward, “That hymn is immortal!” (For a bit more about Webster and a lovely rendering of the song, see Today in 1819.)

There is no deep biblical truth expressed in the song. But it was not intended for that. It was emergency comfort and help for one who was struggling, assuring him that there was a fairer day coming when “our spirits shall sorrow no more.” And that is God’s promise (Rev. 21:4).

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.

(2) Jesus, Jesus, Jesus (Data Missing)
The authorship of this warm little song is unknown, but you can see all the stanzas and hear the tune on the Cyber Hymnal.

JESUS is the name presecribed for the Son of God before He was born (Matt. 1:20-21; Lk. 1:30-31). It is found in the New Testament over 900 times, beginning with the first verse of Matthew, and on to the very last verse of the book of Revelation. The name means Jehovah [is] Salvation, and it identifies Christ as the One come to be our Saviour.

The name is also found in the Old Testament, in prophecies of the coming Messiah. The word for “salvation” in the following texts is Yeshuwah, the Hebrew equivalent of Jesus. God says of Him:

It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation [My Jesus] to the ends of the earth….The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation [the Jesus] of our God (Isa. 49:6; 52:10).

Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
Sing aloud the name;
Till it softly, slowly,
Sets all hearts aflame.

Jesus! name of cleansing,
Washing all our stains;
Jesus! name of healing,
Balm for all our pains.

Jesus! be our joy-note
In this vale of tears;
Till we reach the homeland,
And th’eternal years.


  1. […] d. June 12, 1898) Music: Joseph Philbrick Webster (b. Mar. 22, 1819; d. Jan. 18, 1875) Links: Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]


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