"TO THAT CITY WILL YOU GO?"
"And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with…jasper…" (Rev. 21.19)
INTRO.: A hymn which pictures heaven as a city whose foundations are garnished with jasper is "To That City Will You Go?" The text was written by Mary Bridges Canedy Slade (1826-1882). The tune was composed by Asa Brooks Everett (1828-1875). I have been unable to find when or where the song was first published; the copyright was owned by Rigdon McCoy McIntosh. Slade and Everett collaborated on several songs in our books, such as "Beyond This Land of Parting," "Footprints of Jesus," "Hark! The Gentle Voice," "There’s A Fountain Free," and "Who At My Door Is Standing?", most of which were published by McIntosh, who was a Methodist. I seem to recall reading somewhere a claim made by someone that Everett was a member of the Lord’s church. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "To That City Will You Go?" appeared in the 1938 Spiritual Melodies and the 1943 Standard Gospel Hymns both edited ty Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal and the 1960 Hymnal both edited by Marion Davis; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. Today it may be found in the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song is obviously designed to encourage us to want to go to heaven.
I. Stanza 1 emphasizes the beauty of heaven
"Where the jasper walls are beaming,
Where the pearly portals are glowing,
Where the golden street is gleaming,
Where the crystal waters are flowing:"
A. The figurative language of Revelation is designed to create in our minds a sense of the intense beauty of heaven, with gates of pearl: Rev. 21.12
B. The street is said to be of pure gold: Rev. 21.21
C. Also, there the crystal water of life is flowing: Rev. 22.1
II. Stanza 2 emphasizes the openness of heaven
"Open are the shining portals,
Shut by night or day are they never,
With the glorified immortals,
Will you dwell within them forever?"
A. The concept of portals or gates symbolizes entrance: Rev. 21.13
B. The gates shall not be shut at all by day, indicating openness: Rev. 21.25
C. The glorified immortals there will be the redeemed who serve God and reign forever: Rev. 22.3-5
III. Stanza 3 emphasizes the activity of heaven
"In that many mansioned dwelling,
Jesus one for you is preparing;
Where hosannas glad are swelling,
Will you come their joy sweetly sharing?"
A. The idea of "mansions" suggests dwelling places: Jn. 14.1-3
B. The Lord is preparing these dwelling places for His people: Matt. 25.34
C. Those who dwell there will swell glad hosannas in worship to God, just as the beings there now are pictured as doing: Rev. 4.8-11
IV. Stanza 4 emphasizes the glory of heaven
"There shall be no days declining,
Though no sun nor moon light the heaven;
From amidst the throne is shining
Glory from the Lord freely given."
A. There shall be no days declining there because there will be no more death: Rev. 21.4
B. Neither the sun nor moon will be needed because the glory of God will be its light: Rev. 21.23
C. Therefore, the inhabitants will partake of glory from the Lord: Rev. 21.26
CONCL.: The chorus continues to ask if we are making the necessary preparations to have a home in that wonderful place:
"Down beside that wondrous river,
Where the trees of healing grow,
We shall meet and live for ever;
To that city will you go?"
Again, we must understand that the language of Revelation from which this song draws so much of its imagery is figurative and that we ought not to expect literal pearls, jewels, and gold to appeal to our carnal greed. At the same time, this language is used for the purpose of suggesting to our minds a picture of the beauty, majesty, and glory of heaven. Therefore, as long as we recognize this, there should be no problem singing about these things as we ask each other, "To That City Will You Go?"