The Story Behind…
In The Sweet By And By
This gospel song, famed for its chorus,
In the sweet by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore,
is a genuine product of the Midwest United States. It jumped into life as the result of an impromptu conversation between Samuel Fillmore Bennett (1836-1898) and his musician friend, Joseph P. Webster (1819-1875) in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, in the years of the gospel song makers in the mid-nineteenth century.
Webster came into Bennett’s office one day looking depressed. When Bennett asked him what was the matter, he replied that “I will be all right by and by.” That phrase leaped into life for Bennett. “The sweet by and by,” he mused. “That would make a good hymn.” Then and there he started to write the verse:
There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way,
To prepare us a dwelling-place there.
Webster caught his friend’s enthusiasm, hummed out a melody, and bringing in a friend with his violin the three men soon were singing the song.
The two additional stanzas are:
We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blest,
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.
To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise,
For the glorious gift of His love,
And the blessings that hallow our days.
The Salvation Army has popularized the hymn and it is often sung at Army funeral services.