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

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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:

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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.