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Words: Lucie Eddie Campbell (b. Apr. 30, 1885; d. Jan. 3, 1963)
Music: Lucie Eddie Campbell
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)
Note: Three years before her death, Lucie Campbell married Rev. C. R. Williams, and began using a hyphenated last name, Campbell-Williams. The song He’ll Understand and Say “Well Done, in its original form, was created in 1933. An adapted version was later included in a number of hymn books, and it was recorded by several Country artists, including Johnny Cash and Hank Snow.
Did you ever wonder what it takes to become famous?
Some are famous for great deeds; others are notorious for their wickedness. But there are those who become celebrities for almost no discernible reason. They push themselves forward, often behaving outrageously, and they’re in the news for awhile. In a sense, they’re famous for briefly becoming famous.
But even the best of our deeds will get another assessment one day (Rom. 14:10). Earthly fame is one thing, but what will it count for in eternity? The Bible says believers “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” This is not the place where the wicked are condemned, but where the saints are rewarded. The Greek word for judgment seat, bema, refers to a judge’s stand, such as they have in the Olympic Games, a place where winners are declared and awards handed out.
“That each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good [worthy of eternal reward] or bad [worthless, in eternal terms]” (II Cor. 5:10).
One time a missionary couple was returning home by ship, after a lifetime of toil on the mission field. On board was a famous politician, who was received on shore by cheering crowds, and a brass band. The watching husband turned to his wife, and remarked sadly that there was no welcome for them like that. To which his wise wife replied, “But honey, we’re not home yet!” For the believer, the final accounting of our earthly accomplishments has yet to be given, in the presence of our Saviour.
Lucie Eddie Campbell wrote a song about that. She was an African American, who grew up in Mississippi, and was active in the Civil Rights Movement. She was one of those who courageously refused to surrender her seat on a streetcar, in a section supposed to be reserved for whites. She also battled with government officials to get equal pay for black teachers with their white counterparts.
She was a remarkable woman in many ways. Not only a high school teacher herself for a time, but she went on to get a Masters degree, and was elected vice president of the American Teachers Association. From 1941 to 1946 she served as president of the Tennessee Teachers Association.
But it’s in the area of music that she is especially remembered in Christian circles. Lucie Campbell wrote nearly a hundred hymns. And she created musical pageants to inspire youth to give their lives in the service of Christ. It was also Lucie Campbell who helped to introduce legendary American singer Marian Anderson to the world, serving as her accompanist at the National Baptist Convention.
The present song is based on one of Jesus’ parables. In Matthew 25:21, a master says to his servant:
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
It’s a picture of the time believers will be rewarded when Christ returns, as He promised (Rev. 22:12). Perhaps we feel we have failed in our service, in some respect. But have we been faithful to our calling, doing our best, by the grace of God? That is most important. “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (I Cor. 4:2).
Lucie Campbell certainly achieved a measure of earthly fame in her day. But, without doubt, there were disappointments, and things she wished to achieve that she did not, notably, in the area of civil rights. She died before the enactment of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, to receive the “Well done” of her Saviour was her greatest desire.
I’m not entirely sure of the meaning of the third line of the refrain, “Bearing the staff and the cross of redemption.” Possibly the imagery refers to Christ’s dual role as our Shepherd and our Saviour.
1) If when you give the best of your service,
Telling the world that the Saviour is come;
Be not dismayed when men don’t believe you,
He understands; He’ll say, “Well done.”
Oh when I come to the end of my journey,
Weary of life and the battle is won;
Bearing the staff and the cross of redemption,
He’ll understand and say, “Well done.”
4) But if you try and fail in your trying,
Hands sore and scarred from the work you’ve begun;
Take up your cross, run quickly to meet Him,
He’ll understand; He’ll say, “Well done.”
1) Can you think of an area in your own life in which you’ve done your best for the Lord, but feel that the task was not completed successfully?
2) Can you say you have been faithful in this, and done your best, by the grace of God?
Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal (none)