SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER

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  • SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER
    “Shall We Gather At the River” (or simply “At the River”) is a traditional Christian
    hymn, written by American poet and gospel music composer Robert Lowry. It was
    written in 1864. An arrangement is included in Aaron Copland‘s Old American Songs. Its
    tune name is Beautiful River. Part of this hymn was sung in the Academy Award winning
    movie, Trip to Bountiful (1985) and in John Ford’s Three Godfathers. It was also sung at
    the funeral of American Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.
    Lowry said of this Hymn: One afternoon in July, 1864, when I was pastor at Hanson
    Place Baptist Church, Brooklyn, the weather was oppressively hot, and I was lying on a
    lounge in a state of physical exhaustion…My imagination began to take itself wings.
    Visions of the future passed before me with startling vividness. The imagery of the
    apocalypse took the form of a tableau. Brightest of all were the throne, the heavenly river,
    and the gathering of the saints. I began to wonder why the hymn writers had said so much
    about the “river of death” and so little about the “pure water of life, clear as crystal,
    proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb.” As I mused, the words began to
    construct themselves. They came first as a question of Christian inquiry, “Shall we
    gather?” Then they broke in chorus, “Yes, we’ll gather.” On this question and answer the
    hymn developed itself. The music came with the hymn”.
    Shall we gather at the river,
    Where bright angel feet have trod,
    With it’s 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 it’s silver spray,
    We shall walk and worship ever,
    All the happy golden day.
    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
    Soon we’ll reach the shining river,
    Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
    Soon our happy hearts will quiver
    With the melody of peace.
     The beautiful, the beautiful river;
    Gather with the saints at the river
    That flows by the throne of God

    Yes, we’ll gather at the river,