"WE’LL NEVER SAY GOOD-BY"
"…There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying…" (Rev. 21.4)
INTRO.: A song which helps us to remember that there is a place where there shall be no more death, sorrow, or crying as we often experience in this life is "We’ll Never Say Good-By" (#456 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Anzentia (Angie) Igene Perry Chapman, who was born on Feb. 13, 1849, in Ingham County, MI, and became the wife of preacher Edwin Willard Chapman (some books identify her as Mrs. F. W. Chapman, but this is probably due to smudging of print on the page and should be Mrs. E. W. Chapman). They had three children, and Angie helped her husband cover several rural circuits for the Free Methodist movement, as well as assisting on evangelistic tours. In 1866, they were working in Sparta, MI, and helped found the first Free Methodist Church in Grand Rapids, MI, about that same time. In 1882, she published her first hymn, "Thou Shalt Rest At Eve," and over the next few years produced several others, most of which were not published until after her death. Another song of hers that is found in some older books is "Go Out and Gather the Golden Grain" with music by Frank M. Davis. In the mid- to late-1880’s, the Chapmans traveled from their home in Michigan on an evangelistic tour of Kansas.
On the way, the children were playing with some coins, and seven-year-old Eva swallowed some. The swallowed coins did not pass harmlessly, and Eva became very sick. Five days later, she announced that she was going to heaven, gave away her childhood treasures to her family, then got into her brother’s lap, and sang "Into My Heart, Come into My Heart Lord Jesus." Following that, she passed away. Not finished with their tour, the parents put her body into a glass topped coffin and stored it in a cave. After the tour was over, they buried the body at Edna, KS. When the family returned home, they moved to Lincoln Township in Isabelle County, MI, where Angie penned this hymn in memory of Eva. Some books say that it was based on the words of a "dying Christian woman" who said, "We shall never say ‘good-by’ in heaven." It may be that there was another such incident which prompted the hymn, or it may be that the "dying Christian woman" was actually the daughter. Mrs. Chapman died on Apr. 25, 1889 at Mt. Pleasant, TN. The tune was composed by John Harrison Tenney (1840-1918). Some other of Tenney’s well known tunes are used with "Come To Jesus" and "I Will Pray."
There is some dispute on the date of "We’ll Never Say Good-By." Many books say that it was copyrighted by John J. Hood in 1885, while other books say 1889 (this may also be due to smudged printing). Cyberhymnal says that the tour of Kansas took place about 1887 and the move to Isabelle County occurred around 1888, with the song coming after that, in 1889. It is possible that the 1887-1888 dates are incorrect and that the song was initially copyrighted in 1885 but not put out in print until 1889. Or it could be that the 1885 date is in error. Several years later, the other daughter, Adabelle Chapman Dillabaugh, published a book of her own poems, Comfort and Cheer, which included some of her mother’s. 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 1938 Spiritual Melodies and the 1966 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 (in the latter of which it begins "Our friends on earth we meet in pleasure," an alteration that I have also seen in some other books) both edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1940 Praise and Revival Songs edited by Will W. Slater; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal and the 1959 Hymnal both edited by Marion Davis; and the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 edited by L. O. Sanderson. Today, so far as I know, it is found only in Sacred Selections, as well as the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song contrasts the temporal nature of this life with the eternal glories of heaven.
I. Stanza 1 points out that on earth we must say good-by through death
"With friends on earth we meet in gladness,
While swift the moment fly;
Yea, ever comes the thought of sadness,
That we must say good-by."
A. It is good on earth to meet with friends in gladness: Prov. 18.24
B. Yet, while we enjoy the blessings of this life such as friendship, we must remember that the moments are flying by swiftly: Jas.1.11
C. Therefore, we know that the time will come when we must say good- by because it is appointed for men to die once: Heb. 9.27
II. Stanza 2 points out that for the Christian there is hope even in death
"How joyful is the hope that lingers,
When loved ones cross death’s sea,
That we, when all earth’s joys are ended,
With them shall ever be."
A. However, even though we must die, there is a hope that lingers regarding love ones (as usual Ellis Crum in Sacred Selections had to change it to "saved ones") die: Rom. 8.24-25
B. That hope shall be realized when all earth’s joys are ended at the Lord’s return: 2 Pet. 3.10
C. This hope is that when the dead are raised and the living changed we shall join them together in the clouds to meet the Lord and with them shall ever be: 1 Thess. 4.13-17
III. Stanza 3 points out that the saved will enjoy eternal bliss after death
"No parting words shall e’er be spoken
In yonder home so fair,
But songs of joy, and peace, and gladness,
We’ll sing forever there."
A. No parting words will be spoken in yonder home so fair because we shall enjoy eternal life there: 1 Jn. 2.25
B. That yonder home so fair is the place that Jesus is preparing for His people to dwell: Jn. 14.1-3
C. Nothing but songs of joy and peace and gladness will be sung there as pictured in Revelation with the redeemed around the throne: Rev. 5.8-10
CONCL.: The chorus repeats the main thought that while we must say good-by here, we shall not do so in heaven.
"We’ll never say good-by in heaven,
We’ll never say good-by;
For in that land of joy and song,
We’ll never say good-by."
When I was growing up and getting old enough to realize that someday I would die and there would be a funeral for me, this is one of the first songs that I ever thought that I would like to have sung at my funeral. In my experience, too many funerals are accompanied with overly sad, even morose, dirges. I like this song because, while it does express sadness at the thought of death, there is the hopeful thought that, for those of us who are faithful Christians, in heaven "We’ll Never Say Good-By."