“I Want to Be Ready to Meet Him”

speer_george_thomas
(picture of George Thomas Speer)

“I WANT TO BE READY TO MEET HIM”

“Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Lk. 12:40)

INTRO.: A song which is designed to encourage us to be looking for the Lord who will come at an hour when we think not is “I Want to Be Ready to Meet Him” (#592 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was written by Adger M. Pace (1882-1959). Pace, along with William B. Walbert, provided the music in 1922 for the hymn “What is He Worth to Your Soul?” with words by James Rowe. The tune for “I Want to Be Ready to Meet Him” was composed by George Thomas Speer, who was born at Fayetteville, GA, on Mar. 10, 1891. The fourth of eighteen children, he spent most of his youth growing up in Alabama. At one time he sang in a male quartet sponsored by gospel musician James D. Vaughan (1864-1941). However in 1921, he formed his own group called “The Singing Speer Family.” A unique group in that it used both men’s and women’s voices, something quite rare in the 1920’s, it first consisted of Speer, his wife Lena, his sister Pearl, and her husband Logan Claborn. Later, it was joined by the Speer’s older children, Brock and Rosa Nell, then their younger children Ben and Mary Tom, and finally Brock’s wife Faye.

In addition to singing in groups, Speer taught hundreds of singing schools, at one time serving on the faculty of The Vaughan School of Music, and is credited with over 600 songs. “I Want to Be Ready to Meet Him” was apparently produced in 1938 and copyrighted in 1939, although some sources give 1938 as the copyright date. Perhaps it was copyrighted in 1938 and first published in 1939. Speer and Pace also collaborated on the song “Heaven’s Jubilee” in 1939. In addition, Speer provided both words and music for the 1956 song “Sing Me a Song About Jesus.” After living many years in the Nashville area as a professional musician, he died there on September 7, 1966. After its renewal in 1967, “I Want to Be Ready to Meet Him” was assigned to R. E. Winsett Music Co., which was later bought out by Ellis J. Crum of Kendallville, IN, who was the editor of Sacred Selections for the Church.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the song has appeared in 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 1977 Special Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor, Jr.; in addition to Hymns for Worship.

The song contrasts the things of this world with being ready for the glory-land.

I. Stanza 1 tells us that Jesus is better than pleasure
You may have your worldly pleasures, your silver and your gold,
You may pile up all the riches that this old world can hold;
But I’d rather have my Savior and with Him firmly stand,
For I want to be ready to meet Him in the glory-land.
A. There are those who love pleasures more than God: 2 Tim. 3:5
B. But these pleasures are associated with this old world which we are not to love: 1 Jn. 2:15-17
C. Rather than holding to pleasure, we should hold to Jesus Christ whom God sent to be the Savior: 1 Jn. 4:14

II. Stanza 2 tells us that Jesus is better than riches
You may talk about your riches, your diamonds and your pearls,
You may gain the wealth for ages of this and all the worlds,
But the Savior is more precious, with Him I’ll take my stand,
For I want to be ready to meet Him in the glory-land.
A. Some people are minded to be rich because they love money: 1 Tim. 6:9-10
B. However, all the riches of the ages are not to be compared to the value of one soul: Matt. 16:26
C. The Savior is far more precious than all the valuables of this earth: 1 Pet. 2:3-4

III. Stanza 3 tells us that Jesus is better than sin
There is one thing I can boast of, salvation from the fall,
I’m an heir to wealth in glory, my Father owns it all;
That is why I’m shouting happy and go at His command,
For I want to be ready to meet Him in the glory-land.
A. We have sinned and need salvation from sin: Rom. 3:23-26
B. When we come to Christ and are saved, we become heirs of God: Gal. 4:4-7
C. As heirs, we can rejoice always in the Lord: Phil. 4:4

CONCL.: The chorus continues to express the desire to be ready to meet Christ when He returns.
I want to be ready to meet Him by and by,
I want to be ready to meet Him in the sky;
O, I want to be more like him, and do his best command,
For I want to be ready to meet Him in the glory-land.
This is an archetypal Southern gospel song of the Great Depression era with its slightly syncopated rhythm and the constant references to riches and wealth as opposed to heavenly treasures. There is nothing necessarily unscriptural about the sentiment, but as I’ve culled through the hymns in our books over the years trying to decide which ones I would include in a hymnbook if I ever published one, I’ve wrestled over and over in my mind about this one and finally decided “probably not.” At the same time, when I think about the fact that Jesus is coming again, “I Want to Be Ready to Meet Him.”

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4 thoughts on ““I Want to Be Ready to Meet Him”

  1. This comment relates to “I Want to be Ready to Meet Him,” an absolutely important desire. Nothing could be more essential; however, I concur with the comments on “bywhatauthority.com”. The phrase, “There is one thing I can boast of salvation from the fall…” I find very disturbing. How can we boast of something that is a free gift of which we were and are completely undeserving??? Paul said “Where is boasting then? It is excluded…” Rom. 3:27. In Eph. 2:8,9, Paul says “For by grace are ye saved. . .it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.”

    Reply
    • It depends on how one uses the word “boast.” It can mean to brag about, as in Rom. 3:27 and Eph. 2:8-9 both referring to our own works, but it can also mean to take glory in something, as in Gal. 6:14 where Paul says, “But God forbid thatI should boast [KJV=”glory] except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NKJV). The word “except” means that we can and should boast or glory in the cross of Christ which is the means by which we receive “salvation from the fall.”

      Reply
  2. Look if this is this song at the end say’s i wanna be ready i wanna be ready repeat once more then when he comes.plz ive searched desperately for this my grand ma who raised me passed away in 1983 and mon. On wash day she brought out the ringer type washing machine and say many others but that “i wanna be ready”echoes in my ears today.as a kid i always waundered for what and id look around didt see anything but after her death in ’83in’86i found out what she was talking about.look i dont have no money im on disability.but maybe if yoll tell me the charge just to let me see if thats the one somehow maybe i can help
    u

    Reply
    • I WANT TO BE READY TO MEET HIM

      You may have your worldly pleasures, your silver and your gold,
      You may pile up all the riches that this old world can hold;
      But I’d rather have my Savior and with Him firmly stand,
      For I want to be ready to meet Him in the glory-land.

      You may talk about your riches, your diamonds and your pearls,
      You may gain the wealth for ages of this and all the worlds,
      But the Savior is more precious, with Him I’ll take my stand,
      For I want to be ready to meet Him in the glory-land.

      There is one thing I can boast of, salvation from the fall,
      I’m an heir to wealth in glory, my Father owns it all;
      That is why I’m shouting happy and go at His command,
      For I want to be ready to meet Him in the glory-land.

      Chorus:
      I want to be ready to meet Him by and by,
      I want to be ready to meet Him in the sky;
      O, I want to be more like him, and do his blest command,
      For I want to be ready to meet Him in the glory-land.

      I think you are thinking of this song, Sherry.

      Reply

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