Yesterday’s hymn: Hymn of the Day: Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken, looks at the present Christian life. Today’s “hymn”, a remake/ modern version, On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand, looks ahead to the life to come.

The original author of this hymn was Samuel Stennett. Indelible Grace and Jars of Clay have made a revised-modern version out of Stennett’s old, but well-loved hymn.

“Samuel Stennett (1727-1795), an English Baptist, came from a long line of ministers. He was the son of a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor.
In the 18th century, university education was not easily available to nonconformist families—those who refused to swear allegiance to the Church of England. Stennett did study at the academy at Miles End with distinction, however.

In spite of his nonconformist religious stance, Stennett was a personal friend to the reigning monarch, King George III. Stennett was honored in 1763 with a doctor of divinity degree from King’s College, Aberdeen, for his accomplishments.

He served as an assistant to his father in his congregation in 1747 and assumed the position of pastor upon his father’s death in 1758. He was called as pastor of the Sabbatarian Baptist Church in 1767, a congregation that had been served by his grandfather, but declined the call. While continuing his other position, he preached to the Sabbatarian congregation every Saturday for 20 years.

John Rippon, an English Baptist pastor, published in 1787 an influential collection, A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors. Thirty-eight of Stennett’s hymns appeared in this popular collection. Among those was a hymn under the heading of “Heaven Anticipated” with the title of “The Promised Land” in eight four-line stanzas.” –

When I hear/sing this song I cannot help but think of Pilgrim’s Progress when Christian and his companion Hopeful approach the gate to the Celestial City. But, before they can get too close there is a River that they must cross to get to the city. After struggling through the waters, which represents death, they finally make it into the City.

Much of what this song speaks about can be seen from Israel’s wandering in the wilderness and then finally entering the Promised Land with Joshua leading them across the Jordan River. It also references the Book of Revelation, where God’s people will again be led into his Promised Land, except this time it will not be Joshua leading the people, but Jesus, the Lamb of God.


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