Scripture Verse

Moses went…to the top of Pisgah…and the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan. Deuteronomy 34:1

Introduction

portrait
Luther O. Emerson
(1820–1915)

Words: Is­aac Watts, Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs 1707, Book 2, num­ber 66. A pros­pect of Hea­ven makes death ea­sy.

Music: As­crip­tion Lu­ther O. Em­er­son, 1866 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

portrait
Isaac Watts
(1674–1748)

Ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tion it came to [Watts] one sum­mer day while he was gaz­ing across the gulf-ri­ver, South­ampton Wa­ter; and the plea­sant fields near Net­ley are said to have sug­gest­ed the sweet fields be­yond the swell­ing flood.

That the hymn was pro­duced about this time is cer­tain. It can­not be as­signed to an ear­li­er date, for it is one of Watts’ most per­fect prod­uct­ions, and the work was of no pren­tice hand. Then, too, it must have been writ­ten in the sum­mer, and at a time when its au­thor was out of health, and prob­ab­ly oft­en in pain.

Wright, p. 70

Oh, I do not know how we shall stand the first day in hea­ven. Do you not think we will break down in the song from ov-er-de­light? I once gave out in church the hymn:

There is a land of pure delight
Where saints immortal reign,

And an aged man stand­ing in front of the pul­pit sang hear­ti­ly the first verse, and then he sat down weep­ing. I said to him af­ter­ward, Fa-ther Lin­ton, what made you cry over that hymn? He said, I could not stand it—the joys that are com­ing.

T. Dewitt Talmage. [1832–1902], quoted in Crafts, p. 117

Lyrics

There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign;
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain.

There everlasting spring abides,
And never withering flowers:
Death, like a narrow sea, divides
This heav’nly land from ours.

Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood,
Stand dressed in living green:
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan rolled between.

But timorous mortals start and shrink
To cross this narrow sea;
And linger, shivering on the brink,
And fear to launch away.

O! Could we make our doubts remove,
Those gloomy thoughts that rise,
And see the Canaan that we love
With unbeclouded eyes!

Could we but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o’er,
Not Jordan’s stream, nor death’s cold flood,
Should fright us from the shore.