“There’s a Great Day Coming”

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…" (2 Cor. 5.10)

     INTRO.: A hymn which talks about that time when every one of us shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give account of himself to God is "There’s A Great Day Coming" (#284 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #336 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Great Day) was composed both by Will Lamartine Thompson (1847-1909). Born in East Liverpool, OH, and educated at Mt. Union College in nearby Alliance, OH, Thompson began his career writing secular and patriotic songs. His "Gathering Sea Shells by the Seashore," penned when he was 26, swept the nation from shore to shore and gathered a fortune for the youthful composer. However, at age 40, he turned his attention to writing sacred songs, and his firm, Will L. Thompson & Co., with offices in East Liverpool and in Chicago, IL, became quite successful. "There’s a Great Day Coming" was published in 1887, and the copyright later belonged to Hope Publishing Co.

     Three of Thompson’s other hymns have also remained quite popular: "Lead Me Gently Home, Father," "Jesus Is All The World To Me," and "Softly And Tenderly." Among songbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "There’s A Great Day Coming" appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it can be found in the 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

     This song encourages us to be prepared for the coming of Christ and judgment.

I. Stanza one calls it a "great" day
"There’s a great day coming, a great day coming,
There’s a great day coming by and by,
When the saint and the sinner shall be parted right and left;
Are you ready for that day to come?"
 A. It will be great because it will be a day of judgment: Jude v. 6
 B. Saints and sinners will appear there because every one of us shall give account of Himself to God: Rom. 14.12
 C. However, the saints and sinners shall be separated: Matt. 25.31-32

II. Stanza two calls it a "bright" day
"There’s a bright day coming, a bright day coming,
There’s a bright day coming by and by.
But its brightness shall only come to them that love the Lord;
Are you ready for that day to come?"
 A. It will be bright because the saints will be granted eternal life with God: Mk. 10. 30
 B. However, its brightness will not come to everyone because many choose to enter the broad gate and travel the wide way to everlasting destruction: Matt. 7.13-14
 C. Rather, its brightness will come only to those who truly love the Lord: 2 Tim. 4.6-8

III. Stanza three calls it a "sad" day
"There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming,
There’s a sad day coming by and by,
When the sinner shall hear his doom, ‘Depart, I know ye not;’
Are you ready for that day to come?"
 A. It will be sad because it will bring everlasting punishment to those who do not know God and who do not obey His gospel: 2 Thes. 1.7-9
 B. On that day, the sinner will hear his doom: Matt. 7.21-23
 C. All those who are not right with God will be told to depart into everlasting fire: Matt. 25.41, 46

     CONCL.: The chorus asks us if we are ready for that great day (Heb. 9.27).
"Are you ready, are you ready, Are you ready for that day to come?
Are you ready, are you ready, For the judgment day?"
In Hymns and History, Forrest M. McCann says, "According to Kenneth Hanson, Thompson’s religious roots were in the Stone-Campbell Movement."  That is certainly possible, but the evidence seems to indicate that whatever the religious background of his family, Will L. Thompson himself was in all probability a member of the Methodist Church. There was a gospel preacher of the early 20th century in Texas named Will M. Thompson, so there also might be some confusion on that account. However, we still sing some of Will L. Thompson’s hymns, and this one is often used as an invitation song to encourage both saint and sinner to be ready because "There’s A Great Day Coming."


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