I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.@Revelation 20:12
portrait
James M. Black (1856-1938)

James M. Black, 1893 ( pdf nwc). This song was sung in the 1941 Academy award winning movie Sergeant York.

While a teacher in a Sunday-school [in Williamsport, Pennsylvania] and president of a young people’s society, says the author of this hymn, I one day met a girl, fourteen years old, poorly clad and the child of a drunkard. She accepted my invitation to attend the Sunday-school, and joined the young people’s society. One evening at a consecration-meeting, when members answered the roll-call by repeating Scripture texts, she failed to respond. I spoke of what a sad thing it would be, when our names are called from the Lamb’s Book of Life, if one of us should be absent; and I said, O God, when my own name is called up yonder, may I be there to respond! I longed for something suitable to sing just then, but I could find nothing in the books. We closed the meeting, and on my way home I was still wishing that there might be a song that could be sung on such occasions. The thought came to me, Why don’t you make it? I dismissed the idea, thinking that I could never write such a hymn. When I reached my house my wife saw that I was deeply troubled, and questioned me, but I made no reply. Then the words of the first stanza came to me in full. In fifteen minutes more I had composed the other two verses. Going to the piano, I played the music just as it is found to-day in the hymn-books, note for note, and I have never dared to change a single word or a note of the piece since.

Sankey, pp. 302-03

For another treatment of this theme, see The Roll Call in Heaven.

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Refrain

When the roll, is called up yonder,
When the roll, is called up yonder,
When the roll, is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Refrain

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

Refrain