Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Shall We Gather At The River

Shall We Gather At The River

  1. Shall we gather at the river,
    Where bright angel feet have trod,
    With its crystal tide forever
    Flowing by the throne of God?
    • Refrain:
      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.
  2. On the margin of the river,
    Washing up its silver spray,
    We will talk and worship ever,
    All the happy golden day.
  3. Ere we reach the shining river,
    Lay we every burden down;
    Grace our spirits will deliver,
    And provide a robe and crown.
  4. At the smiling of the river,
    Mirror of the Savior’s face,
    Saints, whom death will never sever,
    Lift their songs of saving grace.
  5. Soon we’ll reach the silver river,
    Soon our pilgrimage will cease;
    Soon our happy hearts will quiver
    With the melody of peace.

This is the song that came in my head Saturday at Swains Lock. We had gathered at the Potomac River for a family get together.
I didn't know it at the time but this song was sung live at the funeral of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.   He is the man who saved the C&O Canal when others wanted to pave it over for a super highway.  And Swains Lock is one of the locks on the C&O Canal.

 e Shall We Gather at the River (Falling Skies).
"Shall We Gather at the River?" or simply "At the River" are the popular names for the traditional Christian hymn titled "Hanson Place," written by American poet and gospel music composer Robert Lowry (1826–1899). It was written in 1864 and is now in the public domain. The title "Hanson Place" is a reference to the original Hanson Place Baptist Church in Brooklyn, where Lowry, as a Baptist minister, sometimes served. The original building now houses a different denomination.
The music is in the key of key of D and uses an R meter. An arrangement was also composed by Charles Ives, and a later arrangement is included in Aaron Copland's Old American Songs (1952). The song was sung live at the 1980 funeral of American Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.


The song's lyrics refer to the Christian concept of the anticipation of restoration and reward, and reference the motifs found at Revelation 22:1-2 - a crystal clear river with water of life, issuing from the throne of heaven, all presented by an angel 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.

In popular culture

In film Westerns

The song was often employed in Western soundtracks, particularly those of director John Ford (being one of his favorite hymns) and it features in many of Ford's most famous films. The melody is played paradoxically in Stagecoach (1939), in the early scene is which Claire Trevor's character Dallas is run out of town. It also appears in Ford's Tobacco Road (1941), My Darling Clementine (1946), Three Godfathers (1948), twice in The Searchers (1956), and in Elliot Silverstein's Cat Ballou (1965). It was used in the Sam Peckinpah films Major Dundee (1965) and also The Wild Bunch (1969) where it was employed as ironic counterpoint during an onscreen massacre. It was similarly put to use in such dark, late-period Westerns as Hang 'Em High (1968).[1]

In other films

It features prominently in David Lean's romantic comedy Hobson's Choice (1954) and in Richard Brooks's drama Elmer Gantry (1960). A caricatural vocal rendition of the song (with new revival-style lyrics) is used for both a car chase and the end credits of Howard Morris' caper comedy, Who's Minding the Mint? (1967).
Part of the hymn was sung in the Academy Award-winning period film, Trip to Bountiful (1985). The hymn is a primary musical theme for schlock film Tromeo and Juliet (1996), credited on the soundtrack as Yes, We'll Gather at the River.[2] The title "Shall We Gather at the River" is used as the name of a second season episode of Falling Skies.

International use

In Sweden, the 1876 hymn to the same melody O, hur saligt att få vandra ("O, how blessed it is to walk") became one of the most popular songs of the widespread Swedish revivalist movement. A drinking song to the same melody, Jag har aldrig vart på snusen, partly mocking the religious message of the Swedish original, is one of the most popular drinking songs at Swedish universities.[citation needed]
In 1937, the tune was adopted in Japan to a popular enka song Tobacco Ya no Musume (タバコやの娘). This enka song was soon parodied into juvenile song about the testicles of the tanuki (たんたんたぬき), which goes, "Tan-tan-tanuki's testicles: there isn't any wind, but [they still go] swing swing swing". The parodied version of the song remain popular among Japanese children and adults to this day.
The University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia uses the same melody in its official song.[citation needed]


  1. Silva, Robert. [1] Future of Classic, 2009-01-10. Retrieved on 2009-02-02
  2. Amazon website. [2] Retrieved on 2010-06-05

External links