“Inside the Gate”

“Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they…may enter through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14)

     INTRO.: A song which describes both the beauty that is found and the joy that is experienced by those who enter through the gates into the city of heaven is “Inside the Gate (#691 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #419 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by John Whitefield (J. W.) Vaughan, who was born at Heflin in Cleburne County, AL, on Jan. 22, 1879, to John Wesley and Beady Vaughan. Music was always a part of his life, and when he was seven years old he began studying it, learning shaped notes. His father loved singing, and his mother was considered one of the finest soprano singers in their part of the country. Because young John enjoyed music so much, he often stayed up until after midnight studying harmony and composition. Some of his teachers included B. C. Unseld, Adger M. Pace, S. M. Denson, W. W. Combs, J. M. Bowman, G. H. Riddles, and B. N. Hultsman.

     Also John attended the Vaughan School of Music in Lawrenceburg, TN, where he studied under James David (J. D.) Vaughan, with whom he was sometimes confused. A member of the church of Christ, John spent the greater part of his life as a composer and teacher of religious music.  In 1904 he began teaching singing normals. In the early part of his life, he taught literary school in the winter and singing schools in the summer. In 1910 he married Annie Mae Wager, and they had three children, Mrs. Christine Beatty of Waynesboro, TN; N. S. Vaughan of Cleveland, TN; and T. D. Vaughan of Chattanooga, TN. In all Vaughan produced about one hundred songs. Probably the most popular of them was “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again,” with words by James Rowe beginning “How sweet and happy seem htose days of which I dream,” published in 1922. Loved by millions through the nation, it has been sung over many radio stations and recorded several times.

     “Inside the Gates” was written in 1930, copyrighted J. W. and J. D. Vaughan, and published in 1932. Another J. W. Vaughan song, “The Old Country Church” beginning “There’s a place dear to me where I’m longing to be,” written in 1934, is a sentimental song with simple, impressive words which many people have hummed or sung as they went about their daily chores. A couple of other songs by Vaughan include “In the Morning Bright and Fair” beginning “How the glad songs of victory will ring,” and “When Mother Sang Me to Sleep” beginning “I am thinking of those happy days gone by.” In addition to his music, he was engaged in the telephone business, owning telephone properties in Marshall, Lawrence, and Wayne Counties, TN. A stockholder and director of the Alabama Telephone Company, he was also an officer for several years in the Tennessee Independent Telephone Association, serving as its director and vice-president until his death at Waynesboro, TN, on Sept. 21, 1945.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “Inside the Gates” appeared in the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis.  Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

     The song suggests several reasons that should motivate us to want to enter the gates into that city.

I. Stanza 1 says that we shall be able to see beloved saved ones in glory
“Loved ones in glory are waiting for me, Just inside the gate;
Some golden morning their faces I’ll see, Just inside the gate.
There will be shouting and singing up there;
Glory forever with them we shall share,
When we shall enter our mansion so fair, Inside the gate.”
 A. The Bible promises that Christians have the hope of being reunited with those who have fallen asleep in Jesus: 1 Thess. 4:13-17
 B. Thus, we understand that those whom we have loved among the saints will be there to serve Christ: Rev. 22:3
 C. This will take place when we enter the mansion so far that Jesus has gone to prepare for His people: Jn. 14:1-3

II. Stanza 2 says that we shall be able to live in a city of gold
“Think of that beautiful city of gold, Just inside the gate,
Where with the ransomed we’ll live, I am told, Just inside the gate;
There our dear Savior and friends we shall meet,
And with the angels we’ll walk down the street,
Beautiful home where our joys are complete, Inside the gate.”
 A. Gold is used to symbolize the great beauty and majesty beyond imagination in heaven: Rev. 21:18
 B. There we shall be in the very presence of our dear Savior: Rev. 21:22-23
 C. It will certainly be a beautiful home in the continuing city which we seek to come: Heb. 13:14

III. Stanza 3 says that we shall be able to join in the wonderful music of the redeemed
“Wonderful music there surely will be, Just inside the gate;
All the sweet singers of heaven we’ll see, Just inside the gate;
We shall rejoice while the ages shall roll,
Joining with angels His name to extol,
There in the beautiful home of the soul, Inside the gate.”
 A. Heaven is pictured as a place where the redeemed will make wonderful music by singing eternal praises to God: Rev. 5:8-9
 B. All the sweet singers of heaven we shall see because many will come from the east and the west to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: Matt. 8:11
 C. Also, we shall rejoice and join in extolling the name of Christ with the angels who always see the face of the Father in heaven: Matt. 18:10

IV. Stanza 4 says that we shall be able to see Jesus
“We shall see Jesus, O praise His dear name, Just inside the gate;
All through the ages His grace we’ll proclaim, Just inside the gate.
Angels and loved ones are looking this way,
Hoping to greet us some wonderful day,
When we move over to heaven to stay, Inside the gate.”
 A. Of all blessings in heaven, the best must surely be seeing Jesus Himself: 1 Jn. 3:1-3
 B. All through the endless ages we shall proclaim the grace of Him who washed our robes and made them white: Rev. 7:9-15
 C. Thus, we certainly look forward to that time when we move over to heaven to stay in that new Jerusalem: Rev. 21:1-4

     CONCL.: In Sacred Selections, Ellis J. Crum wanted to make sure that we knew beyond doubt that every Christian will likely have some loved ones who will not be in heaven, so he changed the first line of stanza 1 to “Saved ones in glory,” the fifth line of stanza 2 to “There our dear Savior and saints,” and the fifth line of stanza 4 to “Angels and saved ones.” Apparently all of our other current books copied from him since they contain these changes too. There is a chorus that expresses the hope of the Christian to enter that eternal city, but in many places where I have been located we just did not have the alto singers needed, so there have been times when I have just led the stanzas and omitted the chorus. Surely, there can be no greater joy for the child of God than the thought of dwelling forever with the Savior and the redeemed of all ages “Inside the Gate.”


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