Hymn of the Month
When We All Get to HeavenAuthor: Eliza Edmunds Hewitt, 1851–1920 / Composer: Emily D. Wilson, 1865-1942
Eliza Edmunds Hewitt was born in Philadelphia on June 28, 1851. After graduation from high school Hewitt became a teacher. However, she suffered a very serious spinal injury which cut short her career. The injury was so severe that she was placed in a body cast and was bedridden for six months. She would eventually make a recovery. She used her convalescence to further her studies in English literature. She also began to write poems in which she proclaimed her faith in the Lord and His grace and mercy. Hewitt went on to teach Sunday School and served as a Sunday School superintendent at her church until she died. She was one of the premier hymnwriters of the late 1800s and early 1900s.She became very close friends with Fanny Crosby and these two women would spend much time together, encouraging one another, and working on hymns.
Hewitt is the author of “My Faith Has Found a Resting Place (August, 2020 Hymn of the Month), “More About Jesus”, “Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown?”, and this hymn, “When We All Get to Heaven.”
The text for the hymn came to her as she studied John 14 and the promises Jesus gave His disciples. Each stanza includes a reference or paraphrase of verses about Heaven. In stanza 1, the phrase “in the mansions bright and blessed, / He’ll prepare for us a place” is a rephrasing of John 14:2: “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Stanza 2 reminds us that in heaven, light replaces “shadows”: “and the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it” for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). The “sighs” of sorrow and pain will be left behind: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
In stanza 3, Hewitt notes that, “just one glimpse of Him in glory/will the toils of life repay”; this phrase paraphrases 1 Peter 4:13, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad with exceeding joy.”
Stanza 4 references “the pearly gates” and “streets of gold,” images clearly drawn from Revelation 21:21: “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.”
Hewitt attended the summer Methodist camp meetings in Ocean Grove, NJ. She met Emily Divine Wilson there and they formed a great friendship. Wilson was also a life-long Philadelphian. She was a pastor’s wife and a musician. She composed 56 hymns. Hewitt, the poet, and Wilson, the musician, worked together to compose this hymn. It was first included in a song book in 1898. The tune named “HEAVEN” was ascribed to Wilson’s music by the editor of the Baptist Hymnal in 1956.
Used by permission from “History of Hymns” by Dr. C. Michael Hawn, Director of the Sacred Music Program and Distinguished Professor, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
Taken from From Darkness to Sunshine, The Life of Eliza Edmunds Hewitt by Al Maxey from Reflections May 29, 2014. Used by permission.
Taken from Then Sings My Soul Keepsake Edition by Robert J. Morgan Copyright © 2011 Robert J. Morgan. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.