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Words: adapted by Joseph Bromehead (b. Nov. 29, 1747; d. Jan. 30, 1826)
Music: Southill, a traditional tune, published in The English Hymnal (1906)
Note: Joseph Bromehead, an Anglican clergyman, is credited with the present version of the hymn which is found in our hymnals. But it was actually written around 1583, during the reign of England’s first Queen Elizabeth. The author of the original simply called himself “F.B.P.” We can’t be certain of his identity, but there was a Roman Catholic priest named Francis Baker Porter who was imprisoned in the cold and damp of the Tower of London. It’s possible that it was there he began meditating on our heavenly home, and wrote about it.
It’s a wonderful blessing to have a happy home. To be able to turn from our struggles in this knock-about world, and find love and companionship, sympathy and understanding, peace and security there.
In 1822, American actor and dramatist John Howard Payne wrote a ballad that is still popular, Home, Sweet Home. The last line says, “There’s no place like home.” But for some there’s a painful irony in those words. No place like it–thank goodness! Because their homes have become and place of stressful conflict and abuse, rejection and abandonment.
Sadly, for some Christians, it is their faith in the Saviour that has made them ridiculed at home, unwanted and shunned by their family. The Apostle Paul reports, “We both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless” (I Cor. 4:11). It’s then the children of God rest themselves in the constancy of the Lord. David the psalmist writes, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me” (Ps. 27:10).
There’s also the assurance that one day we will be ushered into our heavenly home, where the Lord Jesus says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions [many dwelling places]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn. 14:2). In Scripture it is called “the Jerusalem above” (Gal. 4:26), “the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22), and “New Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:2). In that place, there will be, “no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
That is the subject of this unusual hymn called Jerusalem, My Happy Home. The original author allowed his imagination to roam freely. (For example, some lines of his song have King David as the leader of the heavenly choir!) But most of the lines adapted by Joseph Bromehead, and used today, are based on the description in the book of Revelation (e.g. Rev. 21:1-5).
CH-1) Jerusalem, my happy home!
Name ever dear to me;
When shall my labours have an end,
In joy, and peace, and thee?
CH-4) Why should I shrink at pain and woe?
Or feel at death dismay?
I’ve Canaan’s goodly land in view,
And realms of endless day.
CH-7) O Christ do Thou my soul prepare
For that bright home of love;
That I may see Thee and adore,
With all Thy saints above.”
Many years ago, in a farmhouse in the eastern United States, a mother often rocked her little boy to sleep, while singing this hymn. But, while the boy was still young, his godly mother died. His father was a hard man, and finally the resentful boy ran away to a large city in the area.
There, like the prodigal son, he fell in with wicked companions, and lived a wild life. At last, his excesses caught up with him, and he was left sickened and dying, alone in a common lodging house. There, he was visited a number of times by a city missionary, but the young man refused to listen to the appeal to put his faith in Christ.
After visiting one day, discouraged by his failure to reach the hardened young man, the missionary turned to the dingy window. Looking heavenward, he began to sing, “Jerusalem, my happy home, name ever dear to me.” The effect on the dying man was electric. It brought back to his mind his early years at home, his mother’s love, and his mother’s prayers.
“Oh, that hymn!” he cried. “I have not thought of it for years. How many times it called me home again, when I had gone out, resolved never to go back.” And he repented of his sinful ways, and put his faith in Christ that day. He died shortly after, but a mother’s beloved hymn was used to save her wandering boy.
1) What goes into making a home “happy” here on earth?
2) What features will make our heavenly home a happy one?