"HILLTOPS OF GLORY"
"But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills" (Mic. 4:1)
INTRO.: A hymn which talks about the glory of the Lord’s house which is exalted above the hills is "Hilltops of Glory" (#348 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune was composed both by Roy Harris, who was born in Dec., 1915, north of Gainesville, MO, and raised on a rough, hillside farm. Always interested in gospel singing and church work, he attended two Stamps-Baxter schools of music as a young man, after which he began to teach singing schools and to preach the gospel of Christ. After attending the University of Indiana and Southwest Missouri State College at Springfield, MO, he taught school in Kansas. Through the years, he produced children’s songs which he used in vacation Bible schools, other gospel songs, and poems. Probably his best known song is "Hilltops of Glory." Concerning it, Sacred Selections says "Copyright 1944 by Roy Harris," although Praise for the Lord says, "Copyright 1956 in Sacred Selections for the Church," which may be where it was first published (other sources say copyright 1954–in Sacred Selections no less, which was not published until 1956!). However, apparently the song was also used in some edition of Heavenly Highway Hymns originally published by Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Co. and now available from Brentwood Music. It has been included in many hymnbooks and has been recorded by several groups. Also, it was used as the representative hymn for Harris in the 1980 Our Garden of Song compiled by Gene C. Finley.
Other songs by Harris which appeared in Sacred Selections include "His Wondrous Mercy," "In the Shadow of His Wings," "Make It Known," "The Voice of Jesus," "Will He Answer ‘Well Done’?" Harris and his wife Nell lived near Cawker City, KS, for many years. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Hilltops of Glory" may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; and the 1999 Into Our Hands: Songs for the Church edited by Leland R. Fleming; in addition to Sacred Selections, the 2007 Hymns for Worship Supplement edited by R. J. Stevens, Dane K. Shepard, and Tim Stevens, and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr..
The song encourages us to press on toward the eternal mountain of the Lord.
I. Stanza 1 tells us to go onward
"Onward, rejoicing, I tread life’s way;
Higher I’m climbing each passing day.
Hilltops of glory now rise in view,
Where all shall be made new."
A. As we tread life’s way, we should always strive to be going on to perfection: Heb. 6.1
B. This will take us higher each passing day as we climb the narrow path that leads to life: Matt. 7.13-14
C. This path leads us to where all shall be made new: Rev. 21.1-5
II. Stanza 2 uses the example of Moses leading the people of Israel to Canaan
"Way down in Egypt, ‘mid burning sand,
Moses had started for Canaan’s land;
Never turn backwards, always ascend
On to the journey’s end."
A. Moses was sent to Egypt to lead the people of Israel to the promised land: Exo. 3.8
B. Like Moses, we should never turn backwards: Lk. 9.62
C. Rather, we should keep on running the race set before us to its end: Heb. 12.1
III. Stanza 3 reminds us of the need to follow the footsteps of Jesus
"Footsteps of Jesus before us lead;
We tread life’s journey, His warnings heed.
Evil allurements cannot prevail;
I’m on the upward trail."
A. Jesus left us an example that we should follow in His steps: 1 Pet. 2.21
B. Therefore, as we tread life’s journey, we should heed His warnings: Heb. 2.1–2
C. When we do this, evil allurements will not prevail, but we shall keep pressing on to the prize of the upward call of God: Phil. 3.13-14
CONCL.: The chorus continues to point our minds on to the goal before us.
"Hilltops of glory (I now can see);
O brother, won’t you come go with me?
Safe on the mountain I soon shall stand,
Hilltops of glory land."
Many passages of scripture, and thus many of our songs, picture life as a journey from from earth to eternity, and poets have often extended this picture to describe how in life we must pass through valleys, trudge over hills, and generally keep pressing onward. And the goal on which we must set our sights to keep us moving forward is the "Hilltops of Glory."