Posted by: rcottrill | July 2, 2018

I Won’t Have to Cross Jordan Alone

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Words: Charles E. Durham (b. _____, 1893; d. _____, 1972); Thomas H Ramsey (b. _____, 1905; d. _____1997)
Music: Durham and Ramsey (see note below)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (none)

Note: This song was published in 1934, and recorded by Johnny Cash and other gospel artists. Durham was a postman who also wrote gospel songs. He published his first one in 1912. He later became friends with Virgil Stamps, a great promoter of southern gospel music, and Durham dedicated this one to Mr. Stamps. There seems to be some uncertainty as to the involvement of Thomas Ramsey. Did they write words and music cooperatively? It’s unclear.

T he famed motto of the U.S. Postal Service says:

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

The saying is not new. It paraphrases what was said by Herodotus of messengers some twenty-five centuries ago. Even so, it remains true. And, in spite of occasional complaints, most of us greatly appreciate the dependable delivery of the mail.

The job isn’t without its challenges. One of the most notorious perils in door-to-door delivery is from family pets. According to American statistics, though they try to protect themselves by carrying everything from dog biscuits to pepper spray, about three thousand mail carriers are bitten by dogs during the course of a year.

But far more importantly there’s a danger these public servants have to deal with that’s common to us all. It has to do with our eternal destiny. The Bible says, “What man can live and not see death?” (Ps. 89:48). And death is the great dividing line. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

We are to prepare now for the end of life because, after death, our eternal destiny is sealed. In eternity God will declare, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still, he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still” (Rev. 22:11).

Two possible destinies are described in the Word of God. Some will be resurrected “to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2). There is “the resurrection of life, and…the resurrection of condemnation” (Jn. 5:29).

It’s faith in God’s provision for our salvation that makes the difference. The words of John 3:16 make it clear: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish [come to eternal ruin] but have everlasting life.”

Christ declared, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6). “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die [physically], he shall live [eternally]” (Jn. 11:25).

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18).

One particular postman who believed that was Charles Durham. Durham delivered mail in rural Texas, in the early years of the twentieth century. And he took paper and pencil each day on his route, in case a sudden inspiration came to him for a new hymn. He eventually wrote over a hundred of them in that way, later publishing song books, and going on to organize gospel quartets.

Durham’s song uses the Jordan River as a symbol of death. It’s not a perfect analogy, since Canaan (the Promised Land) is not a perfect image of heaven. It was full of enemies, and there were battles for the Israelites to fight there. Nevertheless, the Jordan River figures prominently in biblical history, and has become a symbol of death, and dying to what is past.

The postman’s song was his testimony of faith in Christ, and the assurance that the Lord would carry him safely through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4).

1) When I come to the river at ending of day,
When the last winds of sorrow have blown;
There’ll be Somebody waiting to show me the way,
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.

I won’t have to cross Jordan alone,
Jesus died all my sins to atone;
When the darkness I see, He’ll be waiting for me,
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.

3) Though the billows of sorrow and trouble may sweep,
Christ the Saviour still cares for his own;
Till the end of my journey, my soul he will keep,
And I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.

1) What are some ways in which Israel in Egypt and then in Canaan picture the condition of the sinner and the saved individual?

2) With this in mind, what does crossing the Jordan picture (cf. Gal. 2:20)?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (none)


  1. My husband is a letter carrier and a follower of Christ. I can’t wait to tell him the history of this gospel song. Thank you very much for sharing it.

    • Wonderful! Glad the song blessed you, and hope it will bless your husband too. It’s a reminder that our hymns and gospel songs come from those in all walks of life. God bless.

  2. The song came to my mind while my dad was recently dying in hospital. It has not left me ever since and comforted me very much.

    • Thanks for sharing that. A knowledge of our wonderful hymns can bring comfort and assurance in all kinds of circumstances. May the Lord continue to comfort and encourage you.


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