Posted by: rcottrill | January 11, 2013

The King Is Coming (Sankey)

Words: Ira David Sankey (b. Aug. 28, 1840; d. Aug. 13, 1908)
Music: Ira David Sankey

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: As you can see, Ira Sankey wrote both the words and music for this song, published in 1888. It should not be mistaken for the much more recent song with that title, written by the Gaithers (a song exhibiting some rather confused theology!). Sankey’s composition of his joyful song took place under rather unusual circumstances–to say the least! The story is told, in Sankey’s own words, in both the Wordwise Hymns and Cyber Hymnal links.

Ira Sankey was uniquely gifted for the ministry the Lord gave him on both sides of the Atlantic. He was, to evangelist Dwight L. Moody, what Cliff Barrows and Bev Shea combined have been to the modern evangelist Billy Graham. But more than that, Sankey also played the organ. And he composed music, wrote gospel songs himself, and served as the editor and publisher of popular song books.

There are recordings of Mr. Sankey singing some familiar hymns here. But you need to realize that these were made near the end of his life, when he was in ill health. They don’t give a true picture of the powerful baritone voice (that sang to thousands without amplification) stirring audiences for many years, and effectively presenting the gospel in song.

In 1870, Ira Sankey attended a Y.M.C.A Convention in Indianapolis (back in the days when the word “Christian” in Young Men’s Christian Association meant far more than today). The singing was at first lackluster, and Mr. Sankey, whose reputation as a song leader and soloist had already been established, was asked to lead. He began the singing with There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood, and those gathered responded heartily.

After the meeting, the singer was introduced to evangelist Dwight Moody. He says this of their first meeting–which shows something of Moody’s decisive leadership. In Sankey’s own words:

“He stepped forward and, taking me by the hand, looked at me in that keen, piercing fashion of his, as if reading my very soul. Then he said abruptly, ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Pennsylvania,’ I replied. ‘Are you married?’ ‘I am.’ ‘How many children have you?’ ‘Two.’ ‘What is your business?’ ‘I am a government officer [he collected for the Internal Revenue].’ ‘Well, you’ll have to give that up!’ I was too much astonished to make any reply, and he went on, as if the matter had already been decided: ‘I have been looking for you for the past eight years. You’ll have to come to Chicago and help me in my work.’”

Moody was no musician himself, but he understood the power of music to convey the truth of God’s Word. Some months later, the thirty-year-old Sankey resigned his government job and became part of Moody’s team, a partnership that would be greatly used of God over many years.

As to the present song, it emphasizes the joyful prospect of the soon return of Christ. Yes, the Lord has delayed His return for two thousand years now, but for a gracious purpose. “[He] is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). Even so, the final day will come. God does not count time as we do (vs. 8), and Christ will return suddenly, unexpectedly.

“For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37). “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas. 5:8).

CH-1) Rejoice! Rejoice! our King is coming!
And the time will not be long,
Until we hail the radiant dawning,
And lift up the glad new song.

Oh, wondrous day! oh, glorious morning,
When the Son of Man shall come!
May we with lamps all trimmed and burning
Gladly welcome His return!
Rejoice! Rejoice! our King is coming!
And the time will not be long,
Until we hail the radiant dawning,
And lift up the glad new song.

The thrust of the final stanza is that we should be watchful and ready for the Lord’s return, meanwhile, continuing to stand for the truth and serve Him.

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12).“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them” (Rom. 12:6). “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Pet. 4:10).

CH-3) Oh, may we never weary, watching,
Never lay our armour down
Until He come, and with rejoicing
Give to each the promised crown.

1) In what way(s) do you intend to keep busy for the Lord, until His return?

2) What other hymns about the second coming do you enjoy and sing?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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