Posted by: rcottrill | December 14, 2016

I Will Sing You a Song

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Words: Ellen Maria Huntington Gates (b. Aug. 12, 1835; d. Oct. 22, 1920)
Music: Philip Phillips (b. Aug. 13, 1834; d. June 25, 1895)


Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The hymn has also been called Home of the Soul, or The Home of the Soul.

It may be difficult to imagine, but there have been churches that have no sacred music in their meetings. No songs from a soloist or choir, no singing by the congregation. Nothing. Silence.

But music is one of the great gifts of God to the human family. There was singing in the Old Testament worship of Israel (I Chron. 13:8). There will be singing in the heavenly kingdom (Rev. 15:3), and several texts indicate that the Lord Himself sings (e.g. Zeph. 3:17). In the church, we are to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” both to praise the Lord, and to instruct one another (Col. 3:16). But sometimes a church has refused.

The Second Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island, was formed in 1656, and they rejected singing as part of their religious services, omitting it for over one hundred years. In 1765, singing was introduced–but only after heated discussions at many business meetings. Permission was given to sing one hymn during a service. Those who could not endure the sound were allowed to remain out in the cold until it was concluded!

This is silliness! And it isn’t biblical. The Lord’s people should sing. “Sing to God, sing praises to His name” (Ps. 68:4). And one of the places the hymns of the church have been used effectively is at memorial services. There, people of faith can comfort one another, and express their hope for their eternal future, in song. Hymns such as: Safe in the Arms of Jesus; Abide with Me; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; Come, Ye Disconsolate, and many more, bring encouragement to us. (For a list of other appropriate hymns, see Funeral Hymns.)

One day in 1865, gospel musician Philip Phillips was reading in John Bunyan’s classic book Pilgrim’s Progress about Christian’s entry into heaven. Bunyan wrote:

“Now I saw in my dream that these two men [Christian and Hopeful] went in at the gate; and lo, as they entered, they were transfigured; and they had raiment put on them that shone like gold. There were also those that met them with harps and crowns and gave them to them; the harps to praise withal, and the crowns in token of honour. Then I heard in my dream that…it was said to them: ‘Enter ye into the joy of your Lord!’…Now, just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them, and behold, the City shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold; and in them walked many men, with crowns on their heads and palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises….I wished myself among them.”

Touched by these words, Phillips sent a note to poet and hymn writer Ellen Gates, asking if she could write a hymn based on that scene. When she did so, and sent him the verses, he sat down at the organ in his home and wrote a melody to suit them. For many years, it was commonly used at funeral services. Phillips adds, “It was sung at the funeral of my own dear boy, who had sat on my knee when I wrote the tune.” And Ira Sankey sang it, in 1895 at Phillips’s own funeral.

CH-1) I will sing you a song of that beautiful land,
The far away home of the soul,
Where no storms ever beat on the glittering strand,
While the years of eternity roll.

CH-2) Oh, that home of the soul! In my visions and dreams
Its bright, jasper walls I can see;
Till I fancy but thinly the veil intervenes
Between the fair city and me.

CH-3) That unchangeable home is for you and for me,
Where Jesus of Nazareth stands;
The King of all kingdoms forever is He,
And He holdeth our crowns in His hands.

CH-4) Oh, how sweet it will be in that beautiful land,
So free from all sorrow and pain,
With songs on our lips and our harps in our hands,
To meet one another again.

1) Other than meeting and worshiping Christ, what are you most looking forward to in heaven?

2) What hymns, used at funerals you have attended, have been most of a blessing to you? (For your interest, here is a list of possible Funeral Hymns for such services.)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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