By and By

“…Also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3.20)

INTRO.: A song which concerns our hope of seeing the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and being with Him when He returns is “By and By.”  The text was written by an unknown author. No further information is available about its origin. The arrangement may have been made and the tune was composed both by Rigdon McCoy McIntosh (1836-1899). I have been unable to locate the date of its publication. McIntosh is best known as the composer of tunes for “Gathering Home” and “The Kingdom Is Spreading,” and as the arranger of the tunes for “How Firm A Foundation” and “I Am Bound for the Promised Land.”

Among hymnbooks published during the twentieth century by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, this song appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns  (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3, all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1936 Spiritual Melodies edited by T. S. Teddlie; the 1938/1944 (New) Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1952 Songs of Praise and Devotion edited by Will S. Slater; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today it is found in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard.

The song points our minds toward that time in the future when our hope shall be realized.

I. Stanza 1 centers on our hope in the future

“It may be far, it may be near,

There is a hope, there is a fear,

But in the future waiting I

Shall Jesus see, yes, ‘by and by.'”
A. We do not know what the future holds, especially concerning the coming of Christ whether it is far or near, because no one knows the time of His coming: Matt. 24.36
B. There is certainly some degree of fear in contemplating the future, but for the Christian there is also hope: Rom. 8.24-25
C. This hope is that we shall see Him as He is by and by: 1 Jn. 3.1-3

II. Stanza 2 centers on what we need to do now regarding our hope in the future
“Impatient soul, and murmuring heart,

Your murmuring cease and bear your part
Of pain and labor on life’s road,

For soon ’twill lead thee to thy God.”
A. Sometimes in waiting for our hope we become impatient and murmur, but we must cease that: Phil. 2.14
B. Rather, we must learn to bear our part of pain and labor in taking up the cross to follow Christ: Matt. 16.24
C. We must take this path because only the road that is strait and narrow will lead us to God: Matt. 7.13-14

III. Stanza 3 centers on when our hope in the future shall be realized
“Yes, ‘by and by’ will soon be now,

And God shall wipe each tear-stained brow;
The Lamb shall feed them from the throne,

To living fountains lead His own.”
A. Someday, “by and by” will be now and that for which we hope will be realized, even the salvation of our souls: 1 Pet. 1.3-9
B. Then God will wipe away all tears: Rev. 21.4
C. Also, the Lamb shall feed His people from throne and lead them to living fountains: Rev. 7.17

IV. Stanza 4 centers on what our hope in the future involves
“O, verdant fields! O, shining shore!

The Lamb of God spreads wide the door;
Ah, golden city, surely I

Shall see thy glories ‘by and by.’
A. The verdant fields and shining shore describe the beauty of the heavenly city: Rev. 22.1-2
B. The Lamb has opened the door to this city by His death on the cross: Rev. 5.9-10
C. Therefore, we can have the hope of seeing the glories of that golden city: Rev. 21.10-21

CONCL.: The chorus encourages us to continue looking to the future for the realization of our hope, repeating the last two lines of each stanza, as follows for stanza 1:
“By and by, yes, by and by,

By and by, yes, by and by;
But in the future waiting I

Shall Jesus see, yes, ‘by and by.'”
While Christians must never be so “heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good,” as Dwight L. Moody often said, we must also not forget that we are but strangers and pilgrims in this earth and that our real home is in heaven. Therefore, whatever happens in this life, we must make all our choices and decisions with minds focused upon what God has planned for us “By And By.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s