When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder

Stairs-to-HeavenWhen the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll, is called up yon-der,
When the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.

Words and Music by James M Black, 1893

 


For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – 18

Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Matthew 24:30 – 31

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55 – 57

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23


 

 

The practice of using a trumpet or bugle to communicate to large groups or over a distance, especially when it comes to military application, traces its history back to ancient times.  One clear example is that God commanded Israel to use trumpets when they marched around Jericho in Joshua 6.  Trumpets were used to announce celebration of victory, to sound an attack  and to signal a retreat.  As the use continued and developed they began to us it to signal the start of the morning, the roll call and the end of the day in military camps.  Traditionally in an american military setting “Taps” signaled the end of the day and “Reveille” signaled the start of the day and roll call. This is the image that James Black draws upon in his hymn, “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.”

Black writes, “When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more.”  The Trumpet is used as a signal of the end times in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 where we read, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.”  The blast of the trumpet signals something is happening.  In this case, the apostle Paul is speaking of a day all Christians await.  The day Jesus will fulfill the promise of Acts 1:10 – 11 and return.

The hymn continues “When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.” This time Black draws our minds to a second passage that references the sound of the trumpet signalling the end of time.  In Matthew 24:31 we read, “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

The hymn continues by saying, “On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise, And the glory of His resurrection share; When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies.”  Again, we are brought back to the 1 Thessalonians 4:16 – 17 where Paul tells us, “and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” The glorious news is there.  Death has no final power over those who believe in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55) For as Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In light of this truth, the hymn declares what our response should be.  It says, “Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun, Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care.” If the gift of God is eternal life, if we can know with confidence that we will one day share in his glorious resurrection, then our response can be nothing else.  We are compelled to give our all for Him knowing what we have been given.  “Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done, And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

 

 

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