Shall we gather at the river,
where bright angel feet have trod,
with its 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 its silver spray,
we will walk and worship ever,
all the happy golden day. Refrain
Ere we reach the shining river,
lay we ev'ry burden down;
grace our spirits will deliver,
and provide a robe and crown. Refrain
Soon we'll reach the shining river,
soon our pilgrimage will cease;
soon our happy hearts will quiver
with the melody of peace. Refrain
To the many saints preparing to honor loved ones in worship on this All Saints Sunday, my heart is with you. Sometimes it is surprising how fierce grief can be. The things that have been comforting can sting, well-meaning words can cut deep, clichचs fall short and the changes in your life keep coming too fast. We avoid memories because they may be painful; we avoid talking because we may lose control of our emotions; we avoid honesty because someone may say we should be moving on by now.
Though this hymn feels somewhat light-hearted--nice, upbeat tune, peppy and hopeful words--it also lends itself to yelling. No, really. In the face of grief, of loneliness, of pain we can yell out our faith. "YES! We'll gather at the river! That beautiful, BEAUTIFUL river! Gather WITH THE SAINTS at the river, that flows by the throne of GOD!" Soon, dear ones, our hearts will quiver with the melody of peace.
Give me the strength, dear God, to lay down my burdens. Sometimes, I can hardly carry them. Deliver my spirit with your grace, give me hope and fight with me against despair. Amen.