Posted by: rcottrill | May 27, 2019

Jerusalem, My Happy Home

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Words:
Joseph Bromehead (b. _____, 1747; d. Jan. 30, 1826), and see note below
Music: Barre, by Edward Clark (19th century)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: The hymn Jerusalem, My Happy Home is often credited to English clergyman Joseph Bromehead. However, what he wrote is adapted from an earlier source, identified only with the initials F.B.P. This may refer to Francis Baker Porter, a Roman Catholic priest imprisoned in the Tower of London during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. One view is that he created this song as an expression of his longing for the liberty of heaven.

The original had twenty-six stanzas. This was pared down to nineteen in a 1601 publication. Later hymn writers, James Montgomery (1771-1854) and Joseph Bromehead further amended the song. Its long and tangled history accounts for the varying versions found in our hymnals.

As the twentieth century dawned, author L. Frank Baum published a children’s book called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was followed by fourteen sequels, with a girl named Dorothy Gale being the central character in most of them. Even many who haven’t read the books have seen the classic 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz.

In the story, a tornado sweeps Dorothy away from a Kansas farm, carrying her to a magical kingdom called Oz. There she has many amazing adventures, but through them all she longs to go home again. Says she, wistfully, “There’s no place like home.” No, there isn’t. Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote, “Home is where the heart is.” And an unknown author opined, “Deep within each of us is a longing for home.”

Christians often express a similar sentiment concerning our future home in heaven. For one thing, it’s where our heart is, because it’s where our Saviour is. We see that reflected in the Scriptures too. Paul speaks of “having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” and he says, “to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21, 23).

The Lord Jesus comforted His followers with this promise:

“In My Father’s house are many mansions [or dwelling places]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3).

More about our heavenly home is recorded in the book of Revelation, where two descriptive images are used. Heaven is called Paradise (Rev. 2:7), a Persian word referring to a beautiful park or garden. With its crystal flowing river, and the fruited tree of life (Rev. 22:1-2), it may remind us of Eden.

The other image is that of a city. John calls it, “the holy city, New Jerusalem: (Rev. 21:2). The writer of Hebrews speaks of it as, “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22). In addition to the dwellings the Lord Jesus spoke about, Revelation describes its beautiful walls (Rev. 21:12), and a thoroughfare paved with gold (Rev. 21:21). These things we’re told. But, without doubt, there’s much yet to be discovered. It’s a world beyond our own experience.

There are many hymns about heaven. However, the things the authors tell us must be checked with the Word of God. Sometimes they rely more on imagination than on biblical facts. For example, the original hymn we’ll examine now says in one stanza, “There David stands with harp in hand, as master of the choir.” It’s possible, maybe. But nowhere does the Bible say David will lead the heavenly choir.

While we may challenge some of the details, we can appreciate the sentiment of this hymn, expressing the beauty and delights of our heavenly home, There’s no place like it!

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-2) When shall these eyes thy heaven built walls
And pearly gates behold?
Thy bulwarks, with salvation strong,
And streets of shining gold?

CH-3) There happier bowers than Eden’s bloom,
Nor sin nor sorrow know:
Blest seats, through rude and stormy scenes,
I onward press to you.

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-5) Apostles, martyrs, prophets there
Around my Saviour stand;
And soon my friends in Christ below
Will join the glorious band.

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.

Questions:
1) Beyond the wonder of being with our Saviour, which of the delights mentioned in the hymn are most appealing to you?

2) Why do you think it is that fewer hymns about heaven are being written today than in the 1800’s and before?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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