"THE CHRISTIAN’S WELCOME HOME"
"Then the King shall say…Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you…" (Matt. 25.34)
INTRO.: A song which talks about the welcome which God’s people will receive in the eternal kingdom prepared for them is, "The Christian’s Welcome Home" (#228 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #369 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The original text, at least of stanzas one and two, was written by Mary Ann Pepper Kidder, who was born in Boston, MA, on Mar. 16, 1820. Though blinded as a teenager, her sight was restored after a few years. Living in New York City, NY, for 46 years, was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Biographies of Fanny Crosby which I have read note that Miss Crosby, Mrs. Kidder, and Josephine Pollard were a trio of poetesses who provided the bulk of hymns which were set to music by William Batchelder Bradbury and his associates for their Sunday school songbooks.
It may be that Mrs. Kidder also continued on working with Crosby and Pollard at Bradbury’s successor, the Biglow and Main Company of New York City. Several of Mrs. Kidder’s songs have found their way into some of our books, including "Did You Think To Pray," probably her best known, written in 1875 with music by William O. Perkins; "Is My Name Written There?", in 1878 with music by Frank M. Davis; "Fear Not, Little Flock," in 1882 with music by James G. Dailey; and "We Shall Sleep, But Not Forever." Some of her hymns were published in Ira D. Sankey’s 1878 Sacred Songs and Solos.
The text for "The Christian’s Welcome Home" is dated 1862. Mrs. Kidder died at Chelsea, MA, on Nov. 25, 1905. The song was apparently arranged, the third stanza was added, and the tune was composed all by Charles Edward Pollock (1853-c. 1924). I have found very little information about him, but several of his songs have appeared in our books also, the most famous of which is "Above the Bright Blue." "The Christian’s Welcome Home" in its present form was copyrighted in 1912 by the Firm Foundation Publishing House of Austin, TX.
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 1938 Spiritual Melodies edited by Tillit Teddlie; the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by T. S. Cobb;the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it is found in 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; 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.
The song reminds us of the wonderful welcome that awaits the faithful in heaven.
I. Stanza 1 says that this welcome will be sweet
"How sweet will be the welcome home When this short life is o’er,
When pain and sorrow, grief and care, Shall trouble us no more."
A. We can look forward to a sweet welcome to our eternal home: Matt. 25.23
B. This will occur "when this short life is o’er," reminding us both that this life is short, and that someday it will be over in death: Ps.
90.10, Heb. 9.27
C. But after that, pain, sorrow, grief, and care will trouble us no more: Rev. 21.4
II. Stanza 2 says that this welcome will be lovely
"When we the lovely promised land, With spirit eyes, shall see,
We’ll join the holy angel band In praise, dear Lord, to Thee."
A. Our coming into the joys of heaven is often pictures as when the Israelites came into the promised land of Canaan: Deut. 19.8, Heb. 4.8-9. When I first sang this as a child, I was thinking that it was an appositive, "When we, the lovely promised land, with spirit eyes shall see," meaning that we are the lovely promised land and someday shall see with spirit eyes. But "the lovely promised land" is simply what we see, the direct object of the verb placed before it, instead of its usual place after it, for poetic purposes.
B. When we reach that land, we shall join the holy angel band: Rev. 5.11-12
C. And at that time, we shall sing in praise to our dear Lord: Rev. 7.9-12
III. Stanza 3 says that this welcome will be blest
"If we are faithful we shall gain The land of promised rest,
Where with the Savior we shall reign And be forever blest."
A. We do need to remember that this welcome will be reserved only for those who are faithful: 1 Cor. 4.2, Rev. 2.10
B. But God has promised the faithful that they will gain the land of promised land and live forever with the Savior. Many of our books change this to "Where with the Savior we shall live." The earliest book in which I have found this change is the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis, in which Foy Wallace Jr. did the same thing as Ellis Crum did later, which was to go through with a blue pencil and "edit" a large number older songs to fit some preconceived notion of what they ought to have said. Crum continued the change, and most every book published among brethren since then has also continued it, with the exception of Robert Welch in Abiding Hymns. Evidently, the thinking has been that if a song has some mention of our "reigning" with Christ after He comes, it must be premillennial. However, I understand the last two chapters of Revelation as figuratively portraying the glories of heaven, and it is specifically said that there God’s servants shall serve Him and they shall reign forever: Rev. 22.1-5
C. And this living and reigning with Christ will last forever because we have the hope and promise of eternal life: Tit. 1.1-2, 1 Jn. 2.25
CONCL.: The chorus continues to emphasize how sweet that welcome home will be.
"Welcome home, sweet welcome home, My home, sweet home;
Welcome home, sweet welcome home, The Christian’s welcome home."
One of the greatest joys of this life is at the end of a hard day’s work for one to be welcomed by his loving family into the comfort and security of his home. In the same way, at the end of life’s little day, the people of God can look forward to "The Christian’s Welcome Home."