“O That Will Be Glory”


“When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn. 3:2)


     INTRO.:  A song that describes that time and place when we shall see Him as He is and be like Him is “O That Will Be Glory” (#216 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #429 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written and the tune (Glory Song) was composed both by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, who was born on Aug. 18, 1856, in a prairie shanty at Wilton, IA, and spent the first seventeen years of his life on an Iowa farm.  Expressing a keen interest in music as a lad and being basically self-taught, he began teaching singing schools in the surrounding area at age sixteen without ever having the benefit of a single formal music lesson.  In 1890 he moved to San Francisco, CA, where he was music director of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church.  However, after two years there, he settled in Chicago, IL, to work in music publishing and from 1895 to 1912 published a number of hymn collections. 

     One of Gabriel’s good friends was Ed Card, a minister with the Sunshine Rescue Mission in St. Louis, MO.  Card’s ever-smiling expression earned him the nickname, “Old Glory Face,” and during a sermon, he would often say, “Glory,” instead of “Amen,” to express his agreement.  Also, it was his custom to close his prayers with a reference to heaven, saying, “And that will be glory for me.”   It was this recurring statement of Card’s faith, hope, and joy that moved Gabriel to produce this hymn.  It first appeared in a publication entitled Make His Praise Glorious, compiled in 1900 and published by Edwin Othello Excell (1851-1921; see #548).  Gabriel contributed several songs to this work, often using the pseudonym “Charlotte G. Homer.”    He also provided words and/or music for “An Evening Prayer,” “Higher Ground,” “Only in Thee,” “I Stand Amazed,” “Where the Gates Swing Outward Never,” “God Is Calling the Prodigal,” “All Things Are Ready (Come to the Feast),” “Only a Step,” “The Way of the Cross Leads Home,” “Harvest Time,” “Jesus, Rose of Sharon,” “I Will Not Forget Thee,” “He Lifted Me,” “Send the Light,” and “More Like the Master.”

     In 1912 Gabriel became associated with the publishing firm of Homer Alvin Rodeheaver (1880-1955).  Rodeheaver was the music director for revival evangelist Billy Sunday and used many of Gabriel’s songs in the large Billy Sunday campaigns during the decade of 1910 to 1920.  As a result, Gabriel’s fame as a successful hymn composer became widely known.  “O That Will Be Glory,” which has been translated into many languages and dialects, was said to be the most popular hymn that Rodeheaver ever led for a Billy Sunday meeting, and the copyright was renewed by Rodeheaver in 1928.  In all, Gabriel helped edit some 95 songbooks, including The New Christian Hymn Book in 1907 with T. B. Larimore for the Gospel Advocate Co., plus other musical works and numerous books on musical instruction, and remained with Rodeheaver until his death in Los Angeles, CA, on Sept. 15, 1932.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the song has appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs of Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

     It tells us why heaven will be a place of glory.

I. Stanza 1 points out that in heaven all labors and trials will be over.

“When all my labors and trials are o’er,

And I am safe on that beautiful shore,

Just to be near the dear Lord I adore,

Will through the ages be glory for me.”

 A. Those who die in the Lord rest from their labors and will continue to do so in heaven: Rev. 14:13

 B. “That beautiful shore” refers to the eternal home beside the river of the water of life: Rev. 22:1

 C. There, we shall be near the dear Lord we adore because God and the Lamb are its temple: Rev. 21:22

II. Stanza 2 indicates that in heaven we shall see the Lord and look on His face

“When, by the gift of His infinite grace,

I am accorded in Heaven a place,

Just to be there and to look on His face,

Will through the ages be glory for me.”

 A. The only way that we can be saved eternally is by God’s infinite grace: Eph. 2:8-0

 B. By accepting His grace, we can have the hope of being accorded in heaven a place: 1 Pet. 1:3-5

 C. There, we can look on His face and join with the redeemed of all ages in praising Him: Rev. 5:11-12

III. Stanza 3 adds that in heaven the redeemed of all ages will be there to share the joy

“Friends will be there I have loved long ago;

Joy like a river around me will flow;

Yet just a smile from my Savior, I know,

Will through the ages be glory for me.”

 A. Heaven is that place where God’s servants will be together forever to serve Him: Rev. 22:3-4; as usual, Ellis Crum in Sacred Selections decided that we won’t have any friends in heaven (I guess we’ll all be complete strangers there), so he changed “Friends” to “Saints”

 B. There, we shall experience the joy of being in that vast throng to praise the Lord: Rev. 7:9-12

 C. And we can find joy by looking for a smile from the Savior, who is the light: Rev. 21:23

     CONCL.:  Apparently, William D. Jeffcoat in Sacred Songs for the Church decided that we can’t sing about “ages” in heaven since there will be no time there, although I always thought that we all just understood that this was merely a way to express in our finite language the infinite nature of eternal life in heaven, so he changed the fourth line of each stanza to “Will forever be sweet glory for me.”  Unfortunately, that is nearly impossible to sing because the accent of the words simply doesn’t match the cadence of the music.  The chorus then reminds us that, while we look forward to a home where we shall have freedom from tribulations and troubles, will sing to God eternally, and will be reunited with loved ones in Christ, the central attraction of heaven will be Jesus Christ Himself.

“O that will be glory for me,

Glory for me, glory for me,

When by His grace I shall look on His face,

That will be glory, be glory for me.”

One moment of being with Christ in heaven will outweigh a lifetime of suffering, and we can begin even now to anticipate this heavenly joy awaiting us as we sing “O That Will Be Glory.”


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