Posted by: rcottrill | July 25, 2012

God Be With You Till We Meet Again

Words: Jeremiah Eames Rankin (b. Jan. 2, 1828; d. Nov. 28, 1904)
Music: William Gould Tomer (b. Oct. 5, 1833; d. Sept. 26, 1896)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The Cyber Hymnal gives us nine stanzas for this hymn. In hymn books I have at hand, only four are used: CH-1, 2, 4, and 8. Some of the others are of inferior quality, or raise debatable doctrinal issues. One that could be added is CH-3:

God be with you till we meet again;
With the oil of joy anoint you;
Sacred ministries appoint you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you is actually a contraction of “God be with ye” (godbwye, from 1573). It’s an expression we read (in slightly varying forms) about a dozen times in the Word of God. When Joshua was about to take up the reins of leadership, people from several of the tribes said to him, “Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the LORD your God be with you, as He was with Moses” (Josh. 1:17). From the lips of godly Boaz we have: “‘The LORD be with you!’ And they [his servants] answered him, ‘The LORD bless you!’” (Ruth 2:4).

And when Solomon prepared to build a temple for the Lord, David said to his son, “May the LORD be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the LORD your God, as He has said to you” (I Chron. 22:11). And at the dedication of the temple, King Solomon said, “May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us” (I Kgs. 8:57).

When the Jews were about to return to Judah, after the seventy years of Babylonian Captivity, King Cyrus the Persian gave them permission to go with these words, “Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:3)

And finally, as a closing benediction, Paul writes to the Thessalonian church, “May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all” (II Thess. 3:16).

CH-1) God be with you till we meet again;
By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

God is omnipresent, of course. But this is an earnest prayer that God would be actively present and relationally involved in the lives of His people. That they will know the blessing of His presence and intimate fellowship, as well as His evident power in their lives.

There is, however, a touch of wistfulness, as the expression is used in the hymn. It is, after all, a goodbye. The prayer is that God would be with the other person, or persons, “till we meet again.” That reunion may take place in a day, a week or a year. But there’s always the possibility that one or the other will die and depart this life. Then, there’ll be no opportunity to get together again in this world.

But for the Christian, that need not bring despair and despondency. No two Christians will ever part to meet no more. Our separation at death is only “till we meet at Jesus feet” (cf. I Thess. 4:14, 17). Meanwhile, we can pray for God’s guidance, protection and provision for each other. In that we can be confident and rest secure. Note: Rankin’s original line three, in CH-2, read: “Daily many still divide you,” perhaps thinking of the way the Lord divided the two fish to feed a multitude (Matt. 6:41).

CH-2) God be with you till we meet again;
‘Neath His wings protecting hide you;
Daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

CH-4) God be with you till we meet again;
When life’s perils thick confound you;
Put His arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

1) Do you use this hymn in your church? (If not, please consider it. It makes a wonderful benediction for a student going off to school, or a missionary heading off to some distant place.)

2) If you know you have to part from someone for an extended period of time, what particular things would you pray for God to provide for them?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

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