The Glory-Land Way

torbett

THE GLORY-LAND WAY

“That ye may know what is the hope of His calling and what is the riches of His inheritance in the saints…” (Eph. 1:18)

     INTRO.: A song which talks about the way in which we may know the hope of His calling and the riches of His inheritance is “The Glory-Land Way” (#574 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #459 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (The Way) was composed both by James Samuel Torbett, who was born on March 15, 1868, in Tennessee (some sources say Alabama, others Georgia), the second child and first son of John Cornelius and Mary Elizabeth (McCauley or Macaulay) Torbett, whose other children were Ellen, John Walter, Oscar, Frank, Ada, and Bert. His father was a Civil War veteran captured at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Their ancestors came from the town of Torbert, on the left bank of the Shannon River in Ireland, and landed in Maryland. From there they spread to Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and finally to Texas and Oklahoma. A year after James’s birth, the Torbetts moved to Jacksonville, Texas, and eventually settled in Coryell County.  When he was ten years of age, James began borrowing and reading every book he could find, frequently sitting up until eleven or twelve o’clock at night to read. He had a splendid memory. His education was through the ordinary public schools, but he had a spirit of adventure and went out to see the world for himself.

Through the influence of a neighbor, Mrs. Gillespie, who was a music teacher, Torbett studied music and at the age of twenty began teaching music in the country schools and churches, a work which lasted a total of 35 years.   James’s father had led church and camp meeting music for thirty years, and was an example and a help to him. James joined the Methodist Church as a child but was never very active.  On Mar. 5, 1893, he married Miss Eugenia Wicker of Mound, TX, an active member of the Church of Christ, who became his devoted, loyal wife for many years.   Torbett always attended church with her, and they had four children: James Eugene (Gene), who as a trombonist led a fine band during World War I; Samuel Edwin, who died young; and twin daughters, Annice Amanda and Ellen Annez. James’s life was a distinctive service to humanity, teaching people who had not had an opportunity to study music. He taught them how to sing, going from one place to another, organizing schools of from fifteen to twenty-five students, at a nominal charge per student, and ending each school with a picnic and dinner on the grounds, the entire neighborhood participating.  Doing this kind of work for twenty years, he carried around with him a little folding organ.

In 1914 James entered the merchantile business by opening a large bookstore on the southeast side of Town Square in Gatesville, TX, but music was his principal interest, and he frequently spent his time giving singing lessons and composing. He published many books of songs, and made connections with other musicians, especially the Stamps-Baxter Quartet, who used his music frequently over the radio.  Torbett is said to have produced over 100 gospel songs.  Hymnary.org credits him with fifteen hymns, the most famous of which is “The Glory-Land Way,” dated 1924.  Another of his gospel songs “Will the Angels Come for Me?” was used in Sacred Selections.  Also, he composed popular secular songs and taught instrumental music, playing the violin.  He retired from business around 1937.  Torbett was active in instituting the Texas State Organization of Music in country schools. Soon after his death on May 16, 1941 (some sources say that his brother gave the year as 1940), 4,200 of the members from all parts of the state held a special meeting in Waco, TX, where many of his songs were sung.

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “The Glory Land Way” has appeared in the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb; the 1959 Hymns of Praise and Devotion edited by Will W. Slater; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; 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 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; the 2012  Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; and the 2017 Standard Songs of the Church edited by Michael A. Grissom; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song encourages us to follow the way that the Lord wants us to go

I. Stanza 1 identifies the nature of this way

I’m in the way, the bright and shining way,

I’m in the glory-land way;

Telling the world that Jesus saves today,

Yes, I’m in the glory-land way.

  1. There is a way that leads to life: Matt. 7:13-14
  2. It is a bright and shining way because of who established it: Jn. 8:12
  3. It tells the world that Jesus saves: Lk. 2:11, 19:10

II. Stanza 2 mentions the call of this way

List to the call, the gospel call today,

Get in the glory-land way;

Wanderers, come home, oh, hasten to obey,

And get in the glory-land way.

  1. Christ calls us to His way: Matt. 9:13, 20:16
  2. This call comes to us through the gospel: 2 Thess. 2:13-14
  3. And it tells us that to enter this way we must obey: Rom. 16:17-18

III. Stanza 3 refers to the end result of this way

Onward I go, rejoicing in His love

I’m in the glory-land way;

Soon I shall see Him in that home above,

Oh, I’m in the glory-land way.

  1. If we expect to reach the goal, we must press onward: Phil. 3:13-14
  2. As we do so, we can be rejoicing in His love: Phil. 4:4
  3. The cause of this joy is the hope of seeing Him in that home above: 1 Jn. 3:1-3

CONCL.:  The chorus reminds us of the importance of  traveling in this way

I’m in the glory-land way;

I’m in the glory-land way;

Heaven is nearer, and the way groweth clearer,

For I’m in the glory-land way.

It is true that many of the older style gospel songs, and especially some of the earlier twentieth century southern variety, are rather repetitious. This is certainly the case with this song.  If we sing all three stanzas with the chorus each time, we shall have sung the phrase “I’m in the glory-land way” (or its equivalent) some fifteen times by the end of the song. Yet it seems to me that this somewhat egregious example of gospel-song repetition at its worst comes across as nearly “classic poetry” when stood side by side with some of the contemporary praise and worship songs.  In any event, we should be thankful that Christ has made it possible for us to travel in “The Glory-Land Way.”

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2 thoughts on “The Glory-Land Way

  1. Pingback: The Gloryland Way | Gospel Song Of The Week

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