"JUST BEYOND THE ROLLING RIVER"
"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it…" (Rev. 21.23)
INTRO.: A hymn which reflects on that heavenly city which has no need of the sun or the moon to shine in it is "Just Beyond the Rolling River." The text was apparently written and the tune (Rolling River) was certainly composed both by H. W. Elliot, who was born in 1861. I have been able to find very little other information about this person. An article entitled "The History of the Walton Christian Church" about the Christian Church in Walton, KY, written by J. M. Ervin for the May 5 church newsletter in 1938, said, "The history of the Walton Christian Church dates back to the year 1875. In that year the small group of Disciples who had located in and around Walton called Rev. J. W. Beasley to conduct a revival meeting. This meeting was held in the Baptist Church, then located on Church Street. Another meeting followed in 1876, resulting in the organization of the First Christian Church. Rev. Beasley was called to be its first pastor….Such men as H. W. Elliot…and others as noted served the congregation as pastors in days gone by" ( www.cityofwalton.org/history_files/walton%20Christian/waltonchristian.htm ).
Also, The Centennial Convention Report of the Foreign Christian Missionary Society for 1910, when the convention was held at Carnegie Hall (in New York City, NY?), included a report on "The Pioneers and Missions" by H. W. Elliot of Sulphur, KY, which was given on Wednesday night, Oct. 13, and was printed on pp. 136-138 of the report (www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/wwarren/ccr/CCR07A.HTM ). In addition, Elliot produced several gospel songs, such as this one which is dated 1895 and copyrighted by G. H. P. Showalter who was long time editor of The Firm Foundation; "That Beautiful Home" with music by Emmett S. Dean who was associated with the Trio Music Co. of Waco, TX, which was founded by John M. Greer, John E. Thomas, and Franklin L. Eiland, and later included men like Dean and Elliot; and "The Lord Is My Shepherd" with the chorus beginning, "O, Shepherd divine, sweet Shepherd of mine." Elliot died in 1930.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Just Beyond the Rolling River" appeared in the 1936 Triumphant Songs, the 1940 Praise and Revival Songs, the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion, the 1956 Sacred Praise, the 1958 Gospel Song Melodies, and the 1959 Gospel Service Hymnal all edited by Will W. Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; as well as the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat. Many of the older books leave the name of the author blank, but most newer books attribute the words to Elliot.
The song focuses our attention on some of the blessings that God has for His people in heaven.
I. Stanza 1 talks about the people of the heavenly home
"Just beyond the rolling river Lies a bright and sunny land,
Where the saved with Christ are dwelling, A united happy band."
A. As with many other songs, the "rolling river" is intended to symbolize that which separates the living on earth from the realm of the spiritual, just as the Jordan River separated the Israelites in the wilderness from the promised land of Canaan: Josh. 3.14-17
B. Therefore, what lies "just beyond the rolling river" is indeed a "bright and sunny land" because it is a place where there will be no
night: Rev. 21.25
C. Those who will populate this bright and sunny land are the saved who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb: Rev. 7.14
II. Stanza 2 talks about the joy of the heavenly home
"Soon we’ll cross the rolling river, Soon we’ll join the happy band,
There to dwell with Christ forever, In that holy, happy land."
A. Our crossing the rolling river refers to the time of death: Heb. 9.27
B. When that happens, we shall join with that happy band who sing the new song to Christ who redeemed them to God by His blood: Rev. 5.9-10
C. While we recognize that there will be the final resurrection and judgment, there is a sense that when we depart we have the joy of going to be with Christ: Phil. 1.23
III. Stanza 3 talks about the beauty of the heavenly home
"When we’ve crossed the rolling river To that land beyond the tide,
Pearly gates on golden hinges Will be standing, open wide."
A. When we cross the rolling river of death, then we shall have the privilege of drinking of the river of life: Rev. 22.1-3
B. What is beyond the tide is described as a land or country to which the righteous have always longed to go: Heb. 11.13-16
C. Its beauty is figuratively described as having gates of pearl and a street of gold: Rev. 21.21
CONCL.: The chorus continues to emphasize the blessedness of our eternal home, especially the opportunity to dwell with our Savior.
"Just beyond the rolling river, In that land so bright and fair,
We will dwell with Christ forever, Over there, yes, over there."
Throughout this life, we shall have times of triumph and times of tribulation. However, no matter what happens, it will help us to endure and be faithful to our God if we keep our minds centered on the great reward God has planned for His people "Just Beyond the Rolling River."