"And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads" (Rev. 22.4)
INTRO.: A song about that wonderful eternal dwelling place of the righteous where they shall see Christ’s face and His name shall be on their foreheads is "Beautiful Home." The text was written and the tune was composed both by James Wesley McFadden, who was born on October 27, 1873, in Bethel Township, Monroe County, OH, to William Ray and Louisa May Day McFadden. On July 16, 1893, McFadden married Mary Evalyn Morrison, of Mt. Ephraim in Noble County, OH. The wedding took place at Sycamore Valley in Monroe County, where the young couple lived and he became an elementary school teacher. Their first eight children were born there. A lifelong member of the church of Christ, he preached some, taught Bible classes, and conducted funerals. In the early days of the century, the church was the center of family activities, especially during gospel meetings. Mrs. McFadden played the old-fashioned pump organ around which the musical family liked to sing. McFadden taught singing, both in the church and outside as well. The church usually had no full-time preacher, and his home always seemed to keep the preacher for the meetings. Several of those gospel meetings were conducted by Flavil Hall (1876-1952).
In his book Hymns and History, Forrest M. McCann wrote, "Various individual Christians have published hymnals used more or less regionally in the United States and by segments of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Among these, without any effort to be definitive, are the following: S. H. and Flavil Hall, The Gospel Message in Song (1910); Redemption’s Way in Song (1911); and the Cross and Resurrection (1920, 1927). The songs included were chiefly by the editors and their friends….F. L. Rowe, editor of the Christian Leader, published these hymnals." During one particular meeting where Hall was staying in the McFadden home, Hall helped McFadden with a couple of rough spots in a song entitled "Beautiful Home" that McFadden had produced and then published the song in some of his books. I do not have a date for the first publication of the song. One of the McFadden’s daughters, Addie Louisa Sharp Albaugh, who lived from 1908 to 1996, also composed a song, "The Realms of Somewhere," which was published by the Halls as well.
McFadden’s teaching career took him first to Tuscarawas County, in the Dover/New Philadelphia area, and then to Wheeling Township near Old Washington in Guernsey County, both in Ohio. While they were living in Guernsey County, two more children were born to the McFaddens, and they continued to reside there until McFadden’s death on Feb. 18, 1933. His wife survived and lived until 1966. My first acquaintance with McFadden’s song was the result of visiting during gospel meetings sometime after moving to Dayton, OH, in 1987 with the church assembling on Cemetary Rd. in Hilliard, OH, where his grandson and namesake, James R. McFadden, was a member, at one time served as an elder, and would occasionally lead it from copies that had been pasted in the back of their songbooks. After asking for and receiving single copies of the song, I later obtained a copy of the 1927 revised and enlarged edition of The Cross and Resurrection in Song edited by Samuel H. and Flavil Hall which contained the song. Brother McFadden also showed me another Hall hymnbook that included the song. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century, its appearance seems limited to the books mentioned.
This is a good song to encourage our desire to live in heaven with God eternally.
I. Stanza 1 describes heaven as the home of the Savior
"When I cease here to roam I shall reach that bright home
Where the dear Savior’s face I shall see;
I shall dwell by and by, far beyond the blue sky,
And from sorrow forever be free."
A. "When I cease here to roam" obviously refers to the time of death: Heb. 9.27
B. The eternal dwelling place of God and the righteous is pictured as being "up" or beyond the blue sky: 2 Cor. 12.2
C. Because God Himself is there, those who go to be with Him will forever from sorrow be free: Rev. 21.4
II. Stanza 2 describes heaven as a place where we shall be with the angels in light
"We shall sing over there with the angels so fair
In that beautiful city of light;
And its glories sublime in that sunny bright clime
Shall forever dispel gloom and night."
A. Even now the angels are singing praises to the Lord before His throne: Rev. 5.11-12
B. Heaven is a city of light not because of the sun or moon but because of the glory of God: Rev. 21.23
C. Therefore, gloom will forever be dispelled because there will be no night there: Rev. 21.25
III. Stanza 3 describes heaven as a wonderful land of beauty and joy
"In the midst of the street is the fruit ever sweet
And the river of life clear and pure;
And the leaves of the tree for our healings shall be.
There our joy shall forever be sure."
A. The beauty of heaven is indicated by the fact that the tree of life will be there: Rev. 22.2
B. Also the river of life, pure and clear, shall be there: Rev. 22.1
C. And because there will be no curse, God’s servants shall serve Him forever with great joy: Rev. 22.3
CONCL.: The chorus reminds us of the glories of heaven that should make us want to go there.
"Beautiful home, home of the blest,
Home where the weary find rest,
Where the streets are of gold, And there’s pleasure untold–
‘Tis the beautiful home of the blest."
Through the years, many good brethren have written songs which have been used for a while and then forgotten. This seems to be undoubtedly quite normal because, as time passes by, new songs are written and many older ones naturally fall into disuse. But there was something about this song which caught my attention the very first time that I heard it. While we already have many fine songs about heaven in our books, this is a good one that perhaps deserves "dusting off" and being given a second look to help us maintain our hope of that "Beautiful Home."