Sunday, June 30, 2019

Where Jesus Is

In or before 1898, Charles F. Butler and James M. Black wrote Where Jesus is, ’Tis Heaven, which first appeared in The Chorus of Praise for use in Sunday Schools, Young People’s Meetings, Revivals, Prayer Meetings, and All the Social Services of the Church (J. M. Black, editor, New York, NY: Eaton & Mains, 1898). Charles F. Butler wrote the words, and James Milton Black wrote the music. The song has appeared in many hymnals since. That Jesus makes heaven what/where it is remains a popular idea among believing Christians.

The author the words is unknown to this writer.[i] The Chorus of Praise has “C. F. Butler” in 1898, but in other books the hymn is variously credited to C. M. Butler and C. J. Butler – even B. F. Butler. James Milton Black is a well-known composer and songbook editor. He was born in South Hill, New York in 1856, but spent most of his life in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He served at the Methodist Episcopal Church as a Sunday School teacher. Black died in 1938. He and his wife are buried at the Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. Probably his best known song is When The Roll Is Call Up Yonder.

1. Since Christ my soul from sin set free,
This world has been a heav’n to me;
And ’mid earth’s sorrows and its woe,
’Tis heav’n my Jesus here to know.

2. Once heaven seemed a far-off place,
Till Jesus showed His smiling face;
Now it’s begun within my soul,
’Twill last while endless ages roll.

3. What matters where on earth we dwell?
On mountain top, or in the dell?
In cottage, or a mansion fair,
Where Jesus is, ’tis heaven there.

O hallelujah, yes, ’tis heav’n,
’Tis heav’n to know my sins forgiv’n;
On land or sea, what matters where,
Where Jesus is, ’tis heaven there.

Soul Stirring Songs (1918, John T. Benson) has a 4th stanza by R. E. W. (apparently Robert Emmett Winsett, 1876-1952)

4. When I have Christ within my soul,
And by his blood cleansed and made whole,
There’s peace and joy beyond compare,
With Christ, my Lord, ’tis heaven there.

[i] He Saves to the Uttermost, which begins “I was once far away from the Savior,” is credited to C. J. Butler, but also to Chas. I. Butler. I do not know whether this is the same person.

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