"BLESSED ARE THEY THAT DO HIS COMMANDMENTS"
"Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Rev. 22.14)
INTRO.: A song which is based on this statement by John in the book of Revelation is "Blessed Are They That Do His Commandments" (#489 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #595 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Henry R. Trickett, who was born in 1840 probably at Cuba, IL. According to Nathaniel S. Haynes in his History of the Disciples in Illinois 1819-1914, the church at Cuba was organized in 1832 and, "It has given to the ministry H. R. Trickett." Obviously, Trickett became a minister with Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Haynes also noted that the church at Blandinsville, IL, was organized in 1849 and included in the list of those who served as preachers H. R. Trickett. The tune was composed by James Henry Fillmore (1849-1932). The song is dated 1884, and its first appearance may well have been in the 1887 New Christian Hymn and Tune Book, Part III, published by Fillmore Brothers.
Other well-known songs produced by Trickett with melodies by Fillmore or his brother Fred A. include "The Kingdoms of Earth Pass Away One By One" and "In The Desert Of Sorrow And Sin." B. W. Johnson in The People’s New Testament of 1891 follows his comments on Matt. 7:29 with the following:
"On what are you building, my brother,
Your hopes of an eternal home?
Is it loose, shifting sand, or the firm, solid rock,
You are trusting for the ages to come?
Hearing and doing, we build on the Rock;
Hearing alone, we build on the sand.
Both will be tried by the storm and the flood;
Only the rock the trial will stand. — H. R. Trickett."
Also, there is an interesting note in the "Bits and Pieces of Gossip" column from the East St. Louis [IL] Journal of Aug. 31, 1892, that "Alex Anderson and Miss Emma Birsch, both of Mattoon, were married yesterday afternoon at four o’clock, at the First Christian Church, Rev. H. R. Trickett officiating." Trickett died in 1909, but I have been able to find no specific information about exactly when or where. 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 1917 Selected Revival Songs published by F. L. Rowe; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns (stanzas only) edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it appears only in Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.
The song emphasizes the importance of obedience in meeting God’s conditions for eternal life.
I. Stanza 1 says that the obedient shall claim the tree of life
"Blessed are they that do His commandments; They shall claim the tree of life.
Into the city they shall enter; They are victors in the strife."
A. The tree of life represents the eternal nature of the life of the redeemed in heaven: Rev. 22.2
B. The city is the New Jerusalem, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband: Rev. 21.1-2
C. Only those who gain victory through their obedience to Christ will enter there: Rev. 15.2
II. Stanza 2 says that the obedient shall wear the robes of white
"Blessed are they that do His commandments; They shall wear the robes of white.
Under the portals God shall lead them; They shall serve Him day and night."
A. The robes of white represent the purity of those who have been redeemed: Rev. 7.9-14
B. Only those who have thus been made pure in the blood of the Lamb through their obedience to His gospel will be led under the portals or gates: Rev. 21.12
C. And they shall serve God day and night forever and ever: Rev. 22.3-5
III. Stanza 3 says that the obedient shall stand before the throne
"Blessed are they that do His commandments; They shall stand before the throne.
Into the life of joy eternal, God shall claim them for His own."
A. Standing before the throne represents being in the very presence of God Himself: Rev. 4.2-6, 7.15
B. Only those who have obeyed His commandments can enter into the life of joy eternal: Rev. 22.17
C. These are the ones whom God will claim as His own: Rev. 21.3-4
CONCL.: The chorus continues to remind us of the essentiality of obedience:
"Blessed, blessed (are they who do His commandments), Blessed are they.
Into the city they shall enter; Blessed, blessed, blessed are they."
Most of the language of this song is drawn directly from the book of Revelation and its picture of the conquering saints. In a world where deep reverence for God and humble submission to His will are downplayed even among many who claim to be followers of Christ, it is good to remember that "Blessed Are They That Do His Commandments."