“He’ll Understand and Say ‘Well Done’

"…Well done, thou good and faithful servant…" (Matt. 25.21)

     INTRO.: A hymn which shows that one aspect of our work as Christians is to labor for the reward of hearing the Master say that we have been a good and faithful servant is "He’ll Understand and Say ‘Well Done’" (#469 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed by Lucie (Lucy) Eddie Campbell Williams, who was born in 1885 at Duck Hill, MS, the youngers of nine children of Burrell and Isabella Wilkerson Campbell. Her father worked for the Mississippi Central Railroad, later purchased by the Illinois Central Railroad, and her mother worked as a cook. Shortly after Lucie’s birth, her father was killed in a train accident and Isabella moved her nine children to Memphis, TN. Wanting her children to receive a good education and be exposed to the performing arts, she gave piano lessons to Lucie’s older sister Lora, during which Lucie listened attentively and then practiced the lessons on her own. Educated in the public schools of Memphis, Lucie graduated in 1899 from Kortrecht (later Booker T. Washington) High School as valedictorian in her class and was given the highest prize for her Latin proficiency. After this, she passed the teachers’ exam and began teaching at Carnes Ave. Grammar School.

     In 1911, Lucie transferred to Kortrecht where she taught American history and English. In later years, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Rust College, Holly Springs, MS, and a master’s degree from Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College. At the age of nineteen, she organized a group of Beale St. musicians into a music club to which other members were later added to form a thousand-voice choir that performed at the National Baptist Convention. In 1915, at the organizational meeting of the National Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Congress held in Memphis, "Miss Lucie" was elected as music director. In 1919, she produced her first song, "Something Within," which was followed by more than 100 others, including her best known, originally entitled "He Understands, He’ll Say Well Done," in 1933, and she was on the committee that chose the music for the 1921 Gospel Pearls published by the National Baptist Convention. From 1941 to 1946 she served as president of the Tennessee Teachers Association, and in 1946 she was elected to the National Policy Planning of the National Education Association. In 1955, her loyalty and dedication to the Baptist Sunday School and Training Union Congress was recognized when she was asked to serve as one of the principal lecturers during its fiftieth anniversary session held in Atlantic City, NJ.

     Lucie was also an activist for civil justice. In 1960, she married her lifelong friend and business partner of many years, C. R. Williams, a minister. The National Sunday School and the Baptist Training Union Congress of the National Baptist Convention showed its appreciation to its "first lady of music" when it declared Lucie E. Campbell Appreciation Day on June 20, 1962. While getting ready to attend the banquet held in her honor, she suddenly became very sick and was rushed to the hospital. After a six-month illness, she died on Jan. 3, 1963, at Nashville, TN. Many different arrangements of "He’ll Understand and Say Well Done" have been made. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in a 1949 arrangement by J. R. Baxter Jr. copyright by the Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Co. in both the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in a 1976 arrangement by Jack Taylor also copyrighted by Stamps-Baxter Music in the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; as well as Sacred Selections, in a 1943 (or 1953 depending on the edition) arrangement by R. E. Winsett; and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat (in the Taylor arrangement, where it is simply called a Southern melody, source unknown).

     The song points us forward to the reward for doing the work of the Lord.

I. Stanza 1 talks about our service
"If when you give the best of your service,
Telling the world that the Savior is come,
Be not dismayed when men don’t believe you;
He’ll understand and say well done."
 A. From those who have become His children God expects a reasonable service: Rom. 12.1
 B. That service involves telling the world that the Savior has come by preaching the word: Acts 8.4
 C. However, we need to be strengthened ahead of time to know that men will not always believe us, just as they often rejected the message of God’s prophets of old: Ezek. 33.31-32

II. Stanza 2 talks about the Savior
"Misunderstood, the Savior of sinners
Hung on the cross; He was God’s only Son.
Meekly He called His Father in heaven;
He’ll understand and say well done."
 A. Jesus came to be the Savior of sinners: 1 Jn. 4.14
 B. However, He was misunderstood and, though it was all a part of God’s plan, the Son of God was hung on the cross: Mk. 14.21-25
 C. Yet, Jesus willingly submitted to this cruel treatment with the expressed attitude "Not as I will, but as You will" (some versions give the last line of the stanza, "Let not My will, but Thine be done;" Jesus uttered this statement in the garden, not onthe cross, but it still expresses the desire of Jesus on the cross): Matt. 26.39

III. Stanza 3 talks about the reward
"When the short life of labor is ended,
Comes the reward for the race you have run.
Sweet is the rest prepared for the faithful;
He’ll understand and say well done."
 A. Our lives upon this earth are relatively short and filled with labor: Ps. 90.9-10
 B. However, God has promised a reward for running the race set before us: Heb. 12.1-2
 C. That reward is a sweet rest prepared for the faithful: Rev. 14.13

IV. Stanza 4 talks about our assurance
"But if you try and fail in the trying,
With your hand scarred from the work you’ve begun,
Take up your cross, run quickly to meet Him;
He’ll understand and say well done."
 A. There are many times when we try to share the gospel with others, but we fail in that they do listen or if they do they may not remain faithful; God does not hold us responsible for the results but for the effort and has promised that in either case we can still be saved: 1 Cor. 3.11-15
 B. As a result, we may be scarred in the sense of bearing in our lives the marks of the Lord Jesus, if not literally, then spiritually through the rejection and ridicule of the world: Gal. 6.17
 C. However, we can have the assurance of knowing that we have pleased God if we are faithful disciples who bear the cross: Matt. 16.24

     CONCL.:  The chorus looks forward to the time when the journey is ended and we meet the Savior.
"When you have come to the end of your journey,
Weary of life and the battle you’ve won,
Bearing your staff and the cross of redemption,
He’ll understand and say well done."
Christians should desire to work for the Lord out of reverence and gratitude simply because of who He is and what He has already done for us. However, as an additional motivation, God has promised that our labor will not be in vain but will receive a reward. Therefore, we can serve Him with the full expectation that if we are faithful, "He’ll Understand And Say ‘Well Done.’"


2 thoughts on ““He’ll Understand and Say ‘Well Done’

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.




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