Posted by: rcottrill | January 25, 2013

When He Cometh

Words: William Orcutt Cushing (b. Dec. 31, 1823; d. Oct. 19, 1902)
Music: Jewels, by George Frederick Root (b. Aug. 30, 1820; d. Aug. 6, 1895)

Wordwise Hymns (William Cushing)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: There’s an inspiring story about a particular time when this 1856 song was a great blessing. It comes from Ira Sankey, and is found in the Cyber Hymnal Link.

William Cushing also collaborated with George Root on the gospel song Ring the Bells of Heaven. In addition, Root wrote the words and music of She Only Touched the Hem of His Garment, based on an incident recorded in Luke 8:43-48. Mr. Root was a man of strong convictions. Before he died in 1895, he requested that nothing be sung at his funeral other than the Doxology (“Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow”).

While I admire his zeal for the glory of God alone, I do disagree with doing that. Personally, if I should die before the Lord’s return, I want my memorial service to be filled with music. Music that is both glorifying God and that presents the message of the gospel.

This hymn was written by Pastor Cushing specifically for the children in his church’s Sunday School. However, other than the first line of CH-3, there’s no particular focus on children. This is a hymn we all can sing. The Lord Jesus called His disciples “little children” (Jn. 13:33). And the Apostle John also speaks affectionately to Christians in his first epistle as “little children,” where the context indicates he’s not referring to infants (I Jn. 2:1, 12, 13, 18, 28; 3:7, 18; 4:4; 5:21).

The text is based on a couple of Old Testament passages. One is Malachi 3:16-17, which says:

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’”

The verses are referring to the godly remnant in Israel. In a time when God judges the wicked, He will not forget to preserve those who have been faithful to Him. They are His special treasure, cared for as one would value and protect precious jewels. In the New Testament, the Church Age saints are described similarly–as “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18).

A second passage also seems to be reflected in Pastor Cushing’s song, especially in the refrain. It’s Daniel 12:2-3:

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”

Again, the initial application of these verses is to the nation of Israel, those who are described to Daniel as “your people” (vs. 1). There will be great rewards to come for those of that nation who demonstrate their faith in God, both by godly wisdom and service for the Lord. This is clearly a New Testament theme as well. The Lord Jesus taught, there is a resurrection of life for those who are born again, and a resurrection of condemnation for lost sinners (Jn. 5:28-29).

Though we’re not saved by our good works (Eph. 2:8-9), how we live becomes a demonstration of our faith–or lack of it (Jas. 2:26; cf. Matt. 7:20). As Church Age saints we can look forward to sharing in the glory of Christ, and being rewarded for our service for Him (Col. 3:4; Rev. 19:7-8; 22:12).

CH-1) When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morning,
His brightness adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

CH-2) He will gather, He will gather
The gems for His kingdom;
All the pure ones, all the bright ones,
His loved and His own.

1) What is implied when the Word of God refers to adult believers as “little children”?

2) Do you agree with what George Root did? If not, what hymns and gospel songs would you like to see used at your memorial service?

Wordwise Hymns (William Cushing)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. I learnt this hymn in Sunday School as a young boy, now many decades ago, little realising then that it was taken from Malachi. Like many such hymns, it has stayed with me and together have all been a source of joy and comfort these many years. They are timeless hymns; they never change; they will remain the blessing they are. until the Lord Himself returns.


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