“O I Want to See Him”

"When He shall appear, we shall be like Him: for we shall see Him as He is" (1 Jn. 3.2)

     INTRO.: A song which points out that one of the blessings of heaven will be that we shall see the Lord as He is is "O I Want To See Him" (#525 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Rufus Henry Cornelius, who was born on Jan. 24, 1872, in Blount County, AL. The son of Joel and Martha Cornelius, he married Macon Burleson in 1895 at Ellis County, TX, and they had seven sons. For much of his life he worked in the music publishing business and compiled the songbook Harvest of Light in 1913. His most famous hymn, "O I Want To See Him," was first published in 1916 and was later owned by the Rodeheaver Co. In 1926 he edited another hymnbook Heart Melodies at Ft. Worth, TX. That same year he provided a tune for a text by Johnson Oatman, entitled "When His Body Was Broken for Me," beginning, "Looking back through the years I can see my dear Lord," that has appeared in some of our books. Cornelius died in Ft. Worth on July 10, 1933.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "O I Want to See Him" appeared in the 1938/1944 (New) Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns (without the chorus) edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1977 Special Sacred Selections (arranged in 1953 by R. E. WInsett) edited by Ellis J. Crum; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; as well as Hymns for Worship and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

      The song tells us that the presence of Him whom we shall see in heaven is with us through life.

I. Stanza 1 says that He leads us when we journey through the land
"As I journey through the land, singing as I go,
pointing souls to Calvary, to the crimson flow,
Many arrows pierce my soul from without, within,
But my Lord leads me on; Through Him I must win."
 A. Our lives upon this earth are pictured as a journey or a pilgrimage through the land: Heb. 11.13
 B. The trials and tribulations that we face in life are like arrows that pierce our souls: Ps. 64.1-4
 C. Yet the Lord leads us on and makes it possible for us through Him to have victory to overcome the world: 1 Jn. 5.4

II. Stanza 2 says that He leads us when the night is dark
"When in service for my Lord dark may be the night,
But I’ll cling more close to Him; He will give me light.
Satan’s snares may vex the soul, turn my thoughts aside,
But my Lord goes ahead, leads what-e’er betide."
 A. Just as night brings darkness physically, so sin makes this world a place of spiritual darkness: Jn. 3.19-20
 B. However, Jesus will give us light because He is the light of the world: Jn. 8.12
 C. Therefore, we can look to Him to lead us so that we can avoid the snare of the devil: 2 Tim. 2.26

III. Stanza 3 says that He guides us when we are in the valley
"When in valleys low I look toward the mountain height,
And behold my Savior there, leading in the light;
With a tender hand outstretched toward the valleys low,
Guiding me, I can see as I onward go."
 A. There are times in life when we pass through dangerous and frightening situations, symbolized as valleys: Ps. 23.4
 B. However, as we run this race, we can look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith: Heb. 12.1-2
 C. He has promised to guide us so that we can press onward toward the prize: Phil. 3.13-14

IV. Stanza 4 says that He leads us when we pass through the billows
"When before me billows rise from the mighty deep,
Then my Lord directs my bark; He doth safely keep,
And He leads me gently on through this world below.
He’s a real Friend to me; O I love Him so."
 A. The billows rising remind us of the people of Israel as the crossed the Jordan into the promised land: Josh. 3.14-17
 B. Therefore, poets often use the picture of our setting sail upon the waters as a symbol of that time when it is appointed for us to die: Heb. 9.27
 C. However, even then we can look to to Christ for comfort because for the Christian death is simply going to be with Him: Phil. 1.23

      CONCL.: The chorus reminds us of our hope of seeing our Guide at last in heaven.
"O I want to see Him, look upon His face,
There to sing forever of His saving grace;
On the streets of glory let me lift my voice,
Cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice."
There are many things that make heaven a worthy goal towards which we can strive–escape from the punishment of hell, being reunited with loved ones in Christ, joining with the saints of all ages in praising God around His throne. However, it seems to me the most important reason for wanting to go to heaven is that, "O I Want To See Him."


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