Posted by: rcottrill | February 25, 2015

Christ Returneth

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Words: H. L. Turner
Music: James McGranahan (b. July 4, 1840; d. July 9, 1907)

Wordwise Hymns (James McGranahan)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This hymn first appeared in 1878, but we know nothing about the author. Likely he was a contemporary of McGranahan’s, and the Cyber Hymnal says he was a co-editor of a songbook called Crowning Jewels No. 4.

Notice that the Cyber Hymnal follows some early publications of this hymn in putting “His own” in quotation marks in each stanza. Not all books do this, but it’s a way of emphasizing that believers belong to Christ, as His special treasure. He loves “His own” (Jn. 13:1). We have other examples of the Bible using this phrase. We are:

¤ “His own elect [chosen ones]” (Lk. 18:7)
¤ “His own sheep” (Jn. 10:3-4)
¤ “His own special people” (Tit. 2:14; I Pet. 2:9)
¤ “His own house [dwelling place]” (Heb. 3:6)

As such, it’s not surprising that the Lord Jesus expresses the desire that we be with Him for all eternity. Jesus said: “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:3). And to God the Father: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory” (Jn. 17:24). In beholding His heavenly glory, we will be led to worship and praise Him, and have the privilege of fellowship with Him, and of serving Him (Rev. 22:3).

As to the hymn itself, the first two stanzas seem to take their inspiration from a parable in Matthew 24:36-44). However, it is well to keep in mind that these words were spoken to a Jewish audience, and they concern the Lord’s coming in judgment to sweep away unbelievers. This can be seen in the comparison made to the flood of Noah’s day (vs. 37-39).

This is the climax of the Tribulation period described in Revelation chapters 6–18. However, I believe the church will be raptured seven years prior to this end-time judgment. If you’d like to see some of the evidence for a pretribulation rapture of the church, check out my article on Pretribulationism.

Even though this seems to be the basis for Turner’s imagery in the first two stanzas, it remains true that the catching away of the church could occur unexpectedly, at any moment, morning (CH-1), noon, or night (CH-2).

CH-1) It may be at morn, when the day is awaking,
When sunlight through darkness and shadow is breaking
That Jesus will come in the fullness of glory
To receive from the world “His own.”

O Lord Jesus, how long, how long
Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.

The rapture of the church is described in Scripture as a catching away of the living to meet the Lord and join those in Christ who have died previously.

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (I Thess. 4:14-17).

CH-3) While its hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
With glorified saints and the angels attending,
With grace on His brow, like a halo of glory,
Will Jesus receive “His own.”

CH-4) Oh, joy! oh, delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying.
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
When Jesus receives “His own.

1) If we are expecting the Lord’s return at any time, how will this affect our behaviour and our priorities?

2) What other second coming hymns do you know and love?

Wordwise Hymns (James McGranahan)
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. “What a gathering” by Fanny Crosby ” “What a gathering of the ransomed that will be” When you take time to meditate on all that the rapture means and involves, it stirs your heart to truly look for His appearing and live in light of it as well. God bless!


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