“Forever with the Lord”

“FOREVER WITH THE LORD”
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which emphasizes our hope of either being raised from the dead or being changed from mortality to immortality to meet the Lord in the air and then to be with Him forever is “Forever with the Lord.”  The text was written by James Montgomery (1771-1854).  It first appeared in his Poet’s Portfolio of 1835.  Nethymnal (Cyberhymnal), apparently following the example of some hymnbook, sets it to a tune (Terra Beata) by Franklin L. Sheppard, who suggested that it was perhaps a traditional English melody which he unconsciously remembered from childhood and later arranged in his Alleluia of 1915 for his friend Maltbie D. Babcock’s hymn “This Is My Father’s World.”  Nethymnal lists an alternate tune (Nearer Home), composed, possibly for Phoebe Cary’s hymn “One Sweetly Solemn Thought,” by Isaac B. Woodbury in 1852 and harmonized by Arthur S. Sullivan in 1874.  Why anyone would want to take Sheppard’s lovely melody for “This Is My Father’s World” and use it with another hymn, even as good as this one, is completely beyond me.  When I was looking over Montgomery’s hymn, it made me think of a tune (Haynes Street) that I devised several years ago for another hymn but that fits both the words and, in my estimation, the sentiment of “Forever with the Lord” perfectly.

     The song mentions several aspects involved with being with the Lord for all eternity.

I. Stanza 1 talks about immortality
“’Forever with the Lord!’
Amen, so let it be!
Life from His death is in that word;
’Tis immortality.
Here in the body pent,
Absent from Him I roam,
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
A day’s march nearer home.”
 A. What God grants in the final resurrection at Christ’s coming is immortality: 1 Cor. 15:50-54
 B. Mortality means being present in the body but absent from the Lord: 2 Cor. 5:1-8
 C. Yet, each day that we live on earth, we are a day near our salvation: Rom. 13:11

II. Stanza 2 talks about the Father’s house
“My Father’s house on high,
Home of my soul, how near
At times to faith’s foreseeing eye
Thy golden gates appear!
Ah! then my spirit faints
To reach the land I love,
The bright inheritance of saints,
Jerusalem above.”
 A. Jesus describes heaven as the Father’s house where there are many mansions or dwelling places: Jn. 14:1-3
 B. This place is pictured as having gates of pearl and a street of gold: Rev. 21:10—21
 C. As Jerusalem was the city in Israel where God’s presence dwelt, so heaven is referred to as the Jerusalem above: Gal. 4:26

III. Stanza 3 talks about the Lord’s presence
“I hear at morn and even,
At noon and midnight hour,
The choral harmonies of Heaven
Earth’s Babel tongues o’erpower;
Then, then I feel that He,
Remembered or forgot,
The Lord, is never far from me,
Though I perceive Him not.”
 A. The ear of faith can hear the choral harmonies of heaven: Rev. 5:8-10
 B. These harmonies remind us that the Lord is never far from us, even as He promised: Matt. 28:20
 C. This fellowship is a foretaste of the eternal presence of the Lord in the New Jerusalem: Rev. 21:1-3

IV. Stanza 4 talks about God’s grace
“‘Forever with the Lord!’ 
Forever in His will,
The promise of that faithful word,
Lord, here in me fulfill.
With Thee at my right hand,
Then I shall never fail;
Uphold me, Lord, and I shall stand,
Through grace I will prevail.”
 A. To receive God’s grace with the hope of heaven, we must determine to do His will: Matt. 7:21
 B. When we do this, we can know that He is at our right hand: Ps. 16:8
 C. Thus, we can know that shall prevail through His grace to receive the inheritance of the saints: Acts 20:32

V. Stanza 5 talks about death
“So when my latest breath
Breaks through the veil of pain,
By death I shall escape from death,
And life eternal gain.
That resurrection word,
That shout of victory:
Once more, ‘Forever with the Lord!’ 
Amen, so let it be!”
 A. Death is the appointed time when our latest breath will break through the veil of pain: Heb. 9:27
 B. However, it is by physical death in Christ that we can escape from the second death: Rev. 20:14-15
 C. But death is not the end; we shall hear the resurrection word: Jn. 5:28-29

     CONCL.:  This is a hymn which to my knowledge has never appeared in any of our books.  Therefore, it is likely not very familiar to most of us.  However, it has a very comforting message to the child of God.  And I would hope that my tune would add to the sense of peacefulness and assurance conveyed by the words.  Certainly, it is the ultimate desire of every Christian to be “Forever With the Lord.”

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One thought on ““Forever with the Lord”

  1. I updated this one:
    “FOREVER WITH THE LORD”
    “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17)

    INTRO.: A hymn which emphasizes our hope of either being raised from the dead or being changed from mortality to immortality to meet the Lord in the air and then to be with Him forever is “Forever with the Lord.” The text was written by James Montgomery (1771-1854). It first appeared in his Poet’s Portfolio of 1835. It was republished in his Sacred Poems and Hymns of 1854. Nethymnal (Cyberhymnal), following the example of some modern hymnbooks such as The Baptist Hymnal of 1991, gives it a tune (Terra Beata or Terra Patris) by Franklin L. Sheppard, who suggested that it was perhaps a traditional English melody which he unconsciously remembered from childhood and later arranged in his Alleluia of 1915 for his friend Maltbie D. Babcock’s hymn “This Is My Father’s World.” Why anyone would want to take Sheppard’s lovely melody for “This Is My Father’s World” and use it with another hymn, even as good as this one, is completely beyond me. Other tunes used include one (Schumann) ascribed to Robert Schumann in Lowell Mason’s Cantica Laudis of 1850, and another (Ishmael) composed by Charles J. Vincent Jr. in 1913. Nethymnal lists an alternate tune (Nearer Home) as used in older hymnbooks such as the 1927 Church Hymnal Mennonite, composed, possibly for Phoebe Cary’s hymn “One Sweetly Solemn Thought,” by Isaac B. Woodbury in 1852 and harmonized by Arthur S. Sullivan in 1874.

    The song mentions several aspects involved with being with the Lord for all eternity.

    I. Stanza 1 talks about immortality
    “‘Forever with the Lord!’
    Amen, so let it be!
    Life from His death is in that word;
    ’Tis immortality.
    Here in the body pent,
    Absent from Him I roam,
    Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
    A day’s march nearer home.”
    A. What God grants in the final resurrection at Christ’s coming is immortality: 1 Cor. 15:50-54
    B. Mortality means being present in the body but absent from the Lord: 2 Cor. 5:1-8
    C. Yet, each day that we live on earth, we are a day near our salvation: Rom. 13:11

    II. Stanza 2 talks about the Father’s house
    “My Father’s house on high,
    Home of my soul, how near
    At times to faith’s foreseeing eye
    Thy golden gates appear!
    Ah! then my spirit faints
    To reach the land I love,
    The bright inheritance of saints,
    Jerusalem above.”
    A. Jesus describes heaven as the Father’s house where there are many mansions or dwelling places: Jn. 14:1-3
    B. This place is pictured as having gates of pearl and a street of gold: Rev. 21:10—21
    C. As Jerusalem was the city in Israel where God’s presence dwelt, so heaven is referred to as the Jerusalem above: Gal. 4:26

    III. Stanza 3 talks about joy and peace
    “Yet clouds will intervene,
    And all my prospect flies;
    Like Noah’s dove, I flit between
    Rough seas and stormy skies.
    Anon the clouds depart,
    The winds and waters cease,
    While sweetly o’er my gladdened heart
    Expands the bow of peace.”
    A. The clouds which intervene symbolize the storms of life, similar to Noah’s flood: Gen. 7:11-12
    B. However, God will gladden our hearts as did the dove which Noah sent out: Gen. 8:8-12
    C. And He also promises us peace as symbolized by the rainbow: Gen. 9:11-17

    IV. Stanza 4 talks about the Lord’s presence
    “I hear at morn and even,
    At noon and midnight hour,
    The choral harmonies of Heaven
    Earth’s Babel tongues o’erpower;
    Then, then I feel that He,
    Remembered or forgot,
    The Lord, is never far from me,
    Though I perceive Him not.”
    A. The ear of faith can hear the choral harmonies of heaven: Rev. 5:8-10
    B. These harmonies remind us that the Lord is never far from us, even as He promised: Matt. 28:20
    C. This fellowship is a foretaste of the eternal presence of the Lord in the New Jerusalem: Rev. 21:1-3

    V. Stanza 5 talks about God’s grace
    “‘Forever with the Lord!’
    Forever in His (Father, if ‘tis Thy) will,
    The promise of that faithful word,
    Lord, here in me fulfill.
    With Thee (Be Thou) at my right hand,
    Then I shall never fail;
    Uphold me, Lord, and I shall stand,
    Through grace I will prevail.”
    A. To receive God’s grace with the hope of heaven, we must determine to do His will: Matt. 7:21
    B. When we do this, we can know that He is at our right hand: Ps. 16:8
    C. Thus, we can know that shall prevail through His grace to receive the inheritance of the saints: Acts 20:32

    VI. Stanza 6 talks about death
    “So when my latest breath
    Breaks through the veil of pain,
    By death I shall escape from death,
    And life eternal gain.
    That resurrection word,
    That shout of victory:
    Once more, ‘Forever with the Lord!’
    Amen, so let it be!”
    A. Death is the appointed time when our latest breath will break through the veil of pain: Heb. 9:27
    B. However, it is by physical death in Christ that we can escape from the second death: Rev. 20:14-15
    C. But death is not the end; we shall hear the resurrection word: Jn. 5:28-29

    CONCL.: The hymn consists of centos from Montgomery’s original poem. Here is the full text:
    “For ever with the Lord!”
    Amen; so let it be;
    Life from the dead is in that word,
    ‘Tis immortality.
    Here in the body pent,
    Absent from Him I roam,
    Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
    A day’s march nearer home.
    My Father’s house on high,
    Home of my soul, how near,
    At times, to faith’s foreseeing eye
    Thy golden gates appear!
    Ah! then my spirit faints
    To reach the land I love,
    The bright inheritance of saints,
    Jerusalem above.
    Yet clouds will intervene,
    And all my prospect flies,
    Like Noah’s dove, I flit between
    Rough seas and stormy skies.
    Anon the clouds depart,
    The winds and waters cease,
    While sweetly o’er my gladden’d heart,
    Expands the bow of peace.
    Beneath its glowing arch,
    Along the hallow’d ground,
    I see cherubic armies march,
    A camp of fire around.
    I hear at morn and even,
    At noon and midnight hour,
    The choral harmonies of heaven,
    Earth’s Babel-tongues o’erpower.
    Then, then I feel that He,
    (Remember’d or forgot,)
    The Lord, is never far from me,
    Though I perceive Him not.
    In darkness as in light,
    Hidden alike from view,
    I sleep, I wake, as in His sight,
    Who looks all nature through.
    All that I am, have been,
    All that I yet may be,
    He sees at once, as He hath seen,
    And shall for ever see.
    How can I meet His eyes?
    Mine on the cross I cast,
    And own my life a Saviour’s prize,
    Mercy from first to last.
    “For ever with the Lord!”
    –Father, if ’tis Thy will,
    The promise of that faithful word,
    Even here to me fulfil.
    Be thou at my right hand,
    Then can I never fail;
    Uphold Thou me, and I shall stand,
    Fight, and I must prevail.
    So when my latest breath
    Shall rend the veil in twain,
    By death I shall escape from death,
    And life eternal gain.
    Knowing as I am known,
    How shall I love that word,
    And oft repeat before the Throne,
    “For ever with the Lord!”
    Then, though the soul enjoy
    Communion high and sweet,
    While worms this body must destroy,
    Both shall in glory meet.
    The trump of final doom
    Will speak the selfsame word,
    And Heaven’s voice thunder through the tomb,
    “For ever with the Lord!”
    The tomb shall echo deep
    That death-awakening sound;
    The saints shall hear it in their sleep,
    And answer from the ground.
    Then, upward as they fly,
    That resurrection-word,
    Shall be their shout of victory,
    “For ever with the Lord!”
    That resurrection-word,
    That shout of victory,
    Once more,–“For ever with the Lord!”
    Amen; so let it be!
    This is a hymn which to my knowledge has never appeared in any of our books. Therefore, it is likely not very familiar to most of us. However, it has a very comforting message to the child of God. And I would hope that my tune would add to the sense of peacefulness and assurance conveyed by the words. Certainly, it is the ultimate desire of every Christian to be “Forever With the Lord.”

    Reply

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