Sunday, July 19, 2009

Farther Along We'll Know More About It

The chancel choir at my church is off this month for summer vacation, so we have been blessed with an assortment of special music to fill-in for our worship services. I am especially blessed this morning to be part of a pick-up men’s quartet which is singing. I have not done a lot of singing outside of the chancel choir for the last few years, so I was very excited to be a part. Our song this morning is the gospel classic, “Farther Along.” For this reason, I was inspired to share with you the story of how this song came to be.

It seems the Reverend W. A. Fletcher, an itinerant preacher, was traveling by train through his mission field in eastern Oklahoma, what was then known as the Indian Territories. Fletcher's wife was expecting their first child, but he was many miles away and wouldn't be the home for the birth. While he was torn at not being with his family, he felt a great obligation to his ministry in the Territories.

Fletcher decided to focus his feelings into the words of a song that dealt with the Christian's discouragement at the apparent prosperity of the wicked, when contrasted with the suffering of the righteous. Through the questions expressed in the song, Fletcher repeats the theme is that God will reveal the truth to us in His good time.

Also on the train with Fletcher was J. R. Baxter, a gospel music promoter who liked Fletcher's words very much. Baxter offered to buy them for $2.00, Fletcher agreed and Baxter had the words set to music. The hymn first appeared in a collection entitled Select Hymns, published in 1911 by The Gospel Trumpet Company.

Fletcher's words reflect the same despair of Jesus' disciples following His death, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24 verses 13 through 48. In their case, it was the risen Jesus Himself who showed them that their lives and Gods plans were much more than what they could feel or see.


Farther Along
By W. A. Fletcher

Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.

Refrain:

Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.

Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
When there are many living in comfort,
Giving no heed to all I can do.

(refrain)

Tempted and tried, how often we question
Why we must suffer year after year,
Being accused by those of our loved ones,
E’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.

(refrain)

Often when death has taken our loved ones,
Leaving our home so lone and so drear,
Then do we wonder why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.

(refrain)

“Faithful till death,” saith our loving Master;
Short is our time to labor and wait;
Then will our toiling seem to be nothing,
When we shall pass the heavenly gate.

(refrain)

Soon we will see our dear, loving Savior,
Hear the last trumpet sound through the sky;
Then we will meet those gone on before us,
Then we shall know and understand why.

(refrain)


Bibliography

"Farther Along Lyrics Anonymous/Unknown." Timeless Truths Free Online Library. ibiblio.org, 2009. Web. 18 July 2009. <http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Farther_Along/>.

"Farther Along (song)." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., 23 June 2009. Web. 18 July 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Farther_Along_(song)&oldid=298050619>.

"Luke 24 King James Bible." King James Bible Online. Biblos.com, 2009. Web. 18 July 2009. <http://kingjbible.com/luke/24.htm>.

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