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

Maxwell N. Cornelius, 1891.

James McGranahan (🔊 pdf nwc).

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. 244-5

portrait
James McGranahan (1840-1907)

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