Speaking to the Soul
Daily Reading for November 1 • All Saints Day
This hymn was written by the Reverend Robert Lowry, D.D., a Baptist minister in New York and the editor of a number of popular Sunday school songbooks. He wrote the words to this well-known hymn when he was a pastor in Brooklyn, on a hot July day in 1864 during a severe epidemic. Dr. Lowry was thinking of the sad scenes all around him when the question arose in his mind, “Shall we meet again? We are parting at the river of death; shall we meet at the river of life?” With his heart full of these thoughts, he seated himself at his parlor organ, and both the words and the music of the famous hymn came to him as if by inspiration.
Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel-feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God?
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.
On the margin of the river,
Washing up its silver spray,
We will walk and worship ever
All the happy, golden day.
Ere we reach the shining river,
Lay we every burden down;
Grace our spirits will deliver,
And provide a robe and crown.
At the smiling of the river,
Mirror of the Saviour’s face,
Saints, whom death will never sever,
Lift their songs of saving grace.
Soon we'll reach the silver river;
Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.
From A Treasure of Hymns by Amos R. Wells (Boston: United Society of Christian Endeavor, c1914).