Scripture Verse

The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. Isaiah 25:8

Introduction

Words: Max­well N. Cor­ne­li­us, 1891.

Music: James Mc­Gra­na­han (🔊 pdf nwc).

If you know where to get a good pho­to of Cornelius (head-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), would you ?

portrait
James McGranahan
(1840–1907)

Mr. Cor­ne­li­us was brought up on a farm in my own coun­ty in Penn­syl­van­ia. He left farm­ing when he came of age, and learned the trade of a brick-ma­son. Lat­er he be­came a con­trac­tor in Pitts­burgh. In erect­ing a house in that ci­ty his leg was brok­en. The phy­si­cians de­cid­ed that it would have to be am­pu­tat­ed…He stood the op­er­a­tion well and came out safe­ly, but was maimed for life.

He now de­cid­ed to go to col­lege and get an ed­u­ca­tion. Af­ter pass­ing through col­lege with hon­or he con­clud­ed to be­come a min­is­ter of the gos­pel.

His first charge was at Al­too­na, Penn­syl­van­ia, but on ac­count of his wife’s health he soon re­moved to Ca­li­for­nia, lo­cat­ing at Pa­sa­de­na, where he built the lar­gest Pres­by­ter­i­an church in that place. Ma­ny who had sub­scribed to help to pay for the build­ing failed in bu­si­ness, and he was left to meet the ob­li­ga­tions as best he could. But in a few years he had the church cleared from all debt.

Short­ly af­ter­ward his wife died. He preached the fun­er­al ser­mon him­self. At the con­clu­sion he quot­ed the words of this hymn, which he had com­posed short­ly be­fore. Both the words of the hymn and the ser­mon were print­ed in a West­ern news­pa­per, where Major Whit­tle found them. Im­pressed by their beau­ty, he cut them out and car­ried them in his Bi­ble for three months be­fore he wrote the cho­rus…Soon af­ter he hand­ed the words to his friend, James Mc­Gra­na­han, who com­posed the tune to which the hymn is now sung.

Sankey, pp. 244–45

Lyrics

Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in the better land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears,
And there, some time, we’ll understand.

Then trust in God through all the days;
Fear not, for He doth hold thy hand;
Though dark thy way, still sing and praise,
Some time, some time we’ll understand.

We’ll catch the broken thread again,
And finish what we here began;
Heav’n will the mysteries explain,
And then, ah then, we’ll understand.

Refrain

We’ll know why clouds instead of sun
Were over many a cherished plan;
Why song has ceased when scarce begun;
’Tis there, some time, we’ll understand.

Refrain

Why what we long for most of all,
Eludes so oft our eager hand;
Why hopes are crushed and castles fall,
Up there, some time, we’ll understand.

Refrain

God knows the way, He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Some time with tearless eyes we’ll see;
Yes, there, up there, we’ll understand.

Refrain