“I Won’t Have to Cross Jordan Alone”

“…Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me…” (Ps. 23:4)

     INTRO.:  A song which points out that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we need fear no evil because the Lord will be with us is “I Won’t Have to Cross Jordan Alone” (#460 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written by Thomas H. Ramsey (1905-1997).  I was not able to find any biographical information on Ramsey, except that Hymnary.org credits him with a total of 38 songs.  The tune was composed by Charles E. Durham (1893-1972).  The song was copyrighted in 1934 by the Stamps-Baxter Music Co. in their book Leading Light.  It was assigned in 1938 to Robert H. Coleman, and the copyright was renewed in 1962 by Broadman Press.  Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, it appeared in the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited by Will W. Slater; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons.  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; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Sacred Selections, the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat, and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church.

     The song helps Christians to look forward to the end of life with hope and encouragement.

I. Stanza 1 talks about coming to the river at ending of day
“When I come to the river at ending of day,
When the last winds of sorrow have blown,
There’ll be somebody waiting to show me the way;
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.”
 A. Coming to the river at ending of day is a common symbol for death: Heb. 9:27
 B. Death will be a time when the last winds of sorrow will have blown because the righteous will rest from their labors: Rev. 14:13
 C. Furthermore, Jesus has gone on ahead of us as our forerunner to show us the way: Heb. 6:19-20

II. Stanza 2 talks about being forsaken and weary and sad
“Often times I’m forsaken (some sources have “I am troubled”) and weary and sad,
When it seems that my friends have all gone (some sources have “flown”);
There is one thought that cheers me and makes my heart glad:
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.”
 A. Often times in this life we may be troubled and weary and sad: Eccl. 7:2-3
 B. This is especially true when it seems that our friends have all flown and forsaken us, as Paul experienced: 2 Tim. 4:16
 C. However, even though we may suffer trials, our hearts can be cheered and made glad by the hope of the crown of life: Jas. 1:12

III. Stanza 3 talks about experiencing sorrow and trouble
“Though the billows of sorrow and trouble may sweep,
Christ the Savior will care for His own.
Till the end of the journey my soul He will keep;
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.”
 A. Also in this life each one will have his share of sorrow and trouble: 1 Thess. 4:13
 B. However, in our sorrow, Christ the Savior has promised to care for His own: 1 Pet. 5:7
 C. Therefore, we can know that He will keep us by faith through His power until the end of our journey unto that salvation ready to be revealed at the last time: 1 Pet. 1:5

     CONCL.:  The chorus emphasizes the fact that Jesus who died to atone for our sins will go with us over Jordan.
“I won’t have to cross Jordan alone;
Jesus died all my sins to atone.
When the darkness I see, He’ll be waiting for me;
I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.”
The sorrow, sadness, and trouble that I experience in this world all bring to my mind the truth that this life will not last forever and eventually I will come to the end of my way.  However, it is of great comfort to know that if I have given my life to Christ, then “I Won’t Have to Cross Jordan Alone.”


4 thoughts on ““I Won’t Have to Cross Jordan Alone”

  1. Thank you for the information you have written about this song. I have included the title of this song in a manuscript. God bless you.

  2. thank you for the information on this song. i am presenting a seinor class with the history of their favoeite songs . this has helped.

  3. This song is often performed ad protestant funerals. I was looking for a possible story by the composer explaining why it was written, but I find that I can find practically nothing about either the composer of the music or the author of the lyrics aside from their names and lists of other hymns they have done.

  4. I am so glad to find this. My mother is sure that Thomas Ramsey was my Grandfathers brother. My Grandfather’s name was Clarence Ramsey and had one brother named Tom (Thomas). Tom was quite the trouble maker and her story is that he found Christ while serving a life sentence in prison for murder. The prison Chaplin led him to the Lord and he wrote this song, gave it to the Chaplin before his death. This article shows that he died in 1997 so it would seem that there is some information out there. Could this be my relative. I don’t know, but I would love to find out.


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