“Just Over in the Glory Land”

"A great multitude…stood before the throne…saying, Salvation to our God…and unto the Lamb" (Rev. 7.9-10).

     INTRO.: A song which describes the joy of that great multitude who will stand around the throne in heaven is, "Just Over In The Glory Land" (#218 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #457 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by James W. Acuff, who was born on Jan. 4, 1864, in Freestone County, TX, the sixth of seven children in the home of Barton W. and Selena J. Randolph Acuff. His father may have been a minister. On Sept. 22, 1925, he married Leila Byrd Elney in Williamson County, TX. Becoming a beloved song-leader and well-known hymnwriter among churches of Christ, especially in the southwest, he is credited with several popular gospel songs and often led the singing for protracted meetings.

     No specific information is available about the circumstances of this hymn’s origin. The tune (Dean or Gloryland) was composed by Emmet Sidney Dean (1876-1951). Dean was a Methodist musician who provided melodies for a number of gospel songs that have appeared in our books, including "Ye Are the Light of the World" by Pearl F. Hatchett Thomas. "Just Over in the Glory Land" was apparently produced around 1906 because it was copyrighted and first published that year in Glad Hosannas, compiled by Acuff, Dean, and William D. Everidge for the Trio Music Co. of Waco, TX.

     Acuff also assisted in compiling hymnbooks for the Firm Foundation Co. of Austin, TX, the best known of which was The New Ideal Gospel Hymn Book, edited in 1930 by Acuff, J. W. Everidge, G. H. P. Showalter, and Austin Taylor. Taylor was another hymnwriter among churches of Christ whose most famous songs are "Closer to Thee" and "Do All in the Name of the Lord." Acuff’s career as a singer and songwriter spanned nearly fifty years. It is often reported that he was related to the famous country singer Roy Acuff, but I have never sought to confirm this. James lived for many years at Granger, TX, before moving to Georgetown, TX, where he died on Aug. 1, 1937.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Today it may befound in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     This song gives a poetic description of some of the blessings of heaven.

I. Stanza 1 says that in heaven we shall be by our Savior’s side
"I’ve a home prepared where the saints abide, Just over in the glory land;
And I long to be by my Savior’s side, Just over in the glory land."
 A. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people because God has prepared it for the righteous from the foundation of the world: Matt. 25.34
 B. It is the eternal home where the saints will abide as they sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the everlasting kingdom: Mt. 8.21
 C. But most of all, we will have the privilege of being by the Savior’s side, because when we are absent from this physical body, we shall be present with the Lord: 2 Cor. 5.1-8

II. Stanza 2 says that in heaven we shall sing God’s praise in the mansions fair
"I am on my way to those mansions fair, Just over in the glory land;
There to sing God’s praise, and His glory share, Just over in the glory land."
 A. Heaven is a place to which God has prepared a way: Mt. 7.13-14
 B. This way takes us to the mansions fair that the Lord is building for His people; some object to using the word "mansions" but the word originally meant simply a dwelling place, which is exactly what Jesus promised would be there: Jn. 14.1-3
 C. And in those mansions or dwelling places we shall sing God’s praise and His glory share: Psa. 26.8

III. Stanza 3 says that in heaven we shall see the Lord and those who have gone on before.
"What a joyful thought that my Lord I’ll see, Just over in the glory land;
And with kindred dear there forever be, Just over in the glory land."
 A. It should certainly be a joyful thought that we can join with the saints of all ages in singing praises to God: Rev. 5.13-14
 B. We are promised that even though we do not know what we shall be when Jesus returns, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3.1-3
 C. Not only do we have the hope of seeing the Lord but also of being reunited with those kindred who have fallen asleep in Jesus: 1 Thes. 4.13-17

IV. Stanza 4 says that in heaven we shall give glad hosannas to Christ the King
"With the blood-washed throng I will shout and sing, Just over in the glory land;
Glad hosannas to Christ, the Lord and King, Just over in the glory land."
 A. Heaven is the hope of the blood-washed throng, those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb: Rev. 1.5-6
 B. Those who now surround the throne of God in heaven are pictured as giving Him praise and honor and glory: Rev. 4.9-11
 C. Thus, those whose hope it is to be there someday can likewise look forward to giving Him praise and honor and glory forever: Rev. 7.11-17.  Some might object to the use of a passage from Rev. 7 to accompany a song about the eternal reward of the righteous in heaven. My understanding of Rev. 7 is that it likely pictures the great host of those saints who had been martyred by the Roman persecution and were awaiting God’s vengeance on His enemies as they stood in the heavenly realm (Hades) before His throne and praised Him. I would assume that the departed souls of the righteous who are now in the Hadean world to await the second coming of Christ are engaged in the same sort of activities. However, I would also assume that what the righteous do in Paradise is very similar to what the redeemed will do in heaven, and thus I do not have the problem that some apparently do of looking at Rev. 7 as a glimpse of the praise, honor, and glory that the saints of all ages will give to God around His throne in His eternal kingdom.
     CONCL.: The chorus repeats the great joy that we should feel as we contemplate heaven.
"Just over in the glory land, I’ll join the happy angel band, Just over in the glory land;
Just over in the glory land, There with the mighty host I’ll stand, Just over in the glory land."
Escaping the punishment of hell is certainly a valid motivation for wanting to be saved. But beyond that, the sheer delight of being with God and Christ that will be experienced in heaven should motivate us to live here in such a way that we can live forever "Just Over In The Glory Land."


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