"IS THIS NOT THE LAND OF BEULAH?"
"Call thy land Beulah, for the Lord delighteth in thee" (Isa. 62:4)
INTRO.: A hymn which refers to the relationship which God’s people have with Him and through which we hope to live with Him after death as Beulah is "Is This Not the Land of Beulah?" The author is sometimes listed as anonymous or unknown, but the text is often attributed to Mrs. Harriet Warner ReQua. No information seems to be available on this author. Some books identify her as Harriet Warner and put the term "ReQua" afterwards in italics as some kind of title. The composer is also sometimes listed as unknown and the music is simply identified as arranged, but the tune is usually attributed to John William Dadmun, who was born on Dec. 20, 1819, at Cambridge, MA, and was the minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church at South Hadley Falls in Holyoke, MA, in 1845 and 1846. Also, he served as prison chaplain at Deer Isle, off the coast of Maine. His works include The Melodeon: A Collection of Hymn Tunes, Original and Selected Music, Adapted to All Occasions of Social Worship, and Army and Navy Melodies: A Collection of Hymns and Tunes, Religious and Patriotic, both in 1862, and The Masonic Choir in 1864. Perhaps his best known tune is that used with the hymn "Rest for the Weary" with words by Samuel Young Harmer beginning, "In the Christian’s home in glory."
Dadmun died in 1890. I have no further information about the song "Is This Not the Land of Beulah?", its date, or its origin of publication. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, a truncated two-stanza version of the song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1), beginning "Is this not the land of Beulah?", and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2, beginning "I am dwelling on the mountain," both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2, which copied from Great Songs No. 2, edited by Tillit S. Teddlie. Four stanzas, but without the chorus, appeared in the 1924 International Melodies edited by Earnest C. Love. The same tune, arranged by O. D. Morrow, is used with a 1973 hymn entitled "The Song of the Saved" by Tom Holland in the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard. The full text of the original hymn may be seen in such books as the 1902 Church and Sunday School Hymnal with Supplement, the 1927 Church Hymnal Mennonite, the 1940 Broadman Hymnal, and the 1983 Old School Hymnal Eleventh Edition.
The song focuses on the spiritual blessings that the God of heaven has made possible for mankind on earth.
I. Stanza 1 talks about dwelling on the mountain
"I am dwelling on the mountain Where the golden sunlight gleams
O’er a land whose wondrous beauty Far exceeds my fondest dreams;
Where the air is pure, ethereal, Laden with the breath of flowers,
They are blooming by the fountain ‘Neath the amaranthine bowers."
A. The mountain represents the rule of God in the hearts of His people: Isa. 2:2
B. The golden sunlight refers to the joyful blessings that come down upon us like sunlight from God who is light: 1 Jn. 1:5
C. The ethereal air and the amaranthine bowers symbolize the purity of the relationship that we have with God in Christ: Eph. 5:25-26 (in the noble effort to make songs understandable, some books actually "dumb down" hymns by replacing words which some people are just too lazy to look up; "ethereal" which means heavenly is replaced by "celestial," and "amaranthine" which means "undying" is replaced with "never fading.")
II. Stanza 2 talks about having been led by the Spirit
"I can see far down the mountain Where I wandered weary years,
Often hindered in my journey By the ghosts of doubts and fears;
Broken vows and disappointments Thickly sprinkled all the way,
But the Spirit led unerring To the land I hold today."
A. "Far down the mountain" is where we wandered weary years in sin: Eph. 2:1-3
B. At that time, we were characterized by doubts, fears, broken vows, and disappointments, being without God: Eph. 2:11-12
C. However, the Spirit, through the message of His word, led us to the land where we are today: Eph. 6:17
III. Stanza 3 talks about drinking at the fountain
"I am drinking at the fountain Where I ever would abide,
For I’ve tasted life’s pure river, And my soul is satisfied;
There’s no thirsting for life’s pleasures, Nor adorning rich and gay,
For I’ve found a richer treasure, One that fadeth not away."
A. In this Beulah, Jesus offers us the fountain of living water: Jn. 4:10-14
B. Therefore, we no longer thirst for life’s pleasures and riches: Lk. 12:15
C. In Christ, we have found treasures which are better because they will never fade away: Matt. 6:19-20
IV. Stanza 4 talks about bearing our burdens
"Tell me not of heavy crosses, Nor the burdens hard to bear,
For I’ve found this great salvation Makes each burden light appear;
And I love to follow Jesus, Gladly counting all but dross,
Worldly honors all forsaking For the glory of the cross."
A. Jesus does tell us to take up the cross: Matt. 16:24
B. But because of what He has done for us, His burden is light: Matt. 11:28-30
C. Therefore, like Paul, we gladly count all but dross: Phil. 3:7-8
V. Stanza 5 talks about Christ’s help in taking up the cross
"Oh, the cross has wondrous glory! Oft I’ve proved this to be true;
When I’m in the way so narrow, I can see a pathway through.
And how sweetly Jesus whispers, ‘Take the cross, thou needest not fear,
For I’ve trod the way before thee, And the glory lingers near.’"
A. The cross has wondrous glory: Gal. 6:14
B. It enables us to see a pathway through the strait and narrow way: Matt. 7:13-14
C. We can look to Jesus who has trod the way before us: Heb. 12:1-2
CONCL.: The chorus uses the same last four lines of the music.
"Is this not the land of Beulah, Blessed, blessed land of light,
Where the flowers bloom forever, And the sun is always bright?"
This hymn is very similar to Edgar Page Stites’s "Beulah Land." Some books that attempt to give explanations for hymns will say that "Beulah" is a term for heaven, but that is really not the case. The word "Beulah" means married and describes the relationship that those who are in the Lord’s church have with God now. Notice the present tense: "I AM dwelling on the mountain…IS this not the land of Beulah?" However, it is also true that the spiritual blessings which the redeemed have from the Lord now are just a foretaste of the glory that is to come. Thus, we are motivated to press on toward the eternal goal as we look around us and say, "Is This Not the Land of Beulah?"