• shall we gather at the river?

    by  • May 5, 2008 • Uncategorized • 3 Comments

    It’s late and I’m restless. After the two deaths last week at our church here in Durham, word came that one of the dearest souls in the Marshfield church died unexpectedly. Grief, like my depression, sends me searching for songs in the middle of the night, mostly looking for old friends to comfort me. I found a few at church this morning in the hymns we sang. The postlude was “Shall We Gather At the River.”

    ere we reach the shining river
    lay we every burden down

    I rode the river of new technology tonight that is YouTube, finding all sorts of old friends camped out along the way. Somewhere in my sojourn, I landed on a song I had not thought of in years, perhaps: Gary Chapman’s “Sweet Jesus,” a haunting melody that captures the paradox of faithful grieving and the kind of hopeful suffering Ginger preached about this morning, following 1 Peter’s lead:

    Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (4:19)

    Here are the lyrics:

    Sweet Jesus

    There is a river running through this town
    It carries the water
    There isn’t any way to slow it down
    Or make it stop
    I was a baby when the big bridge fell
    So I don’t remember
    But I have listened to the stories well
    And so I know
    They were falling
    To the surface
    They were calling
    To their God
    And their cry was

    Sweet Jesus, please won’t you catch us, save us
    Sweet Jesus, please won’t you hear us crying

    Fishing for luck beneath the bridge that day
    A man in his eighties
    He saw it happen and began to pray
    As he dove in
    He found a mother and a baby boy
    They both wouldn’t make it
    The mama handed him her only joy
    He took the child
    Then he was swimming
    Like he was twenty
    He made shoreline
    Then he died
    And his thoughts were

    Sweet Jesus, please won’t you catch us, save us
    Sweet Jesus, please won’t you hear us crying
    He was crying

    I miss my mother and the brave old man
    Though I never knew them
    They are the soul inside the man I am
    I bear their dreams
    And I am walking
    In their footsteps
    I am talking
    To their God
    And my cry is

    Sweet Jesus, please won’t you catch us, save us
    Sweet Jesus, please won’t you hear us crying
    Sweet Jesus, please won’t you catch us, save us
    Sweet Jesus, please won’t you hear us crying
    We’re all crying

    There is a river running through this town
    It carries the water
    There isn’t any way to slow it down
    Or make it stop

    Yes, we’ll gather at the river, the beautiful, beautiful river, gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.

    Peace,
    Milton

    About

    Blogging since December 2005

    http://donteatalone.com

    3 Responses to shall we gather at the river?

    1. Anonymous
      May 5, 2008 at 11:04 am

      I can hear your voice in those words, Milton. Very comforting. Hugs. Molly

    2. May 5, 2008 at 12:25 pm

      How sad and beautiful.

    3. dg
      May 6, 2008 at 6:38 am

      I miss Gary Chapman’s writing and voice…thanks for your voice as well…it is a consistent, comforting source of sanity in a mad, mad, mad world.

      …also, randomly… didn’t know if you noticed, but our buddy Danny O’Lannerghty is playing the stand-up bass behind Chapman in the video.

      dg

    Leave a Reply