As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness (Psalm 17:15).
From my earliest memory I have cherished songs of Fanny Crosby. So far I have written about only one of the, Saved by Grace but I will be writing about more of her simple yet stirring hymns in coming months. My Savior First of All is among my favorite Crosby hymns. Like so many of the hymns in my heart I came to know My Savior First of All at the Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The lyrics echo a thought that all Christians should have; that when we either die or rise in the rapture we should desire to see Jesus Christ, our savior, first. We all have loved family members and friends in Heaven. It will be joyous to see them again and to be with them forever but to see Him, the one that gave himself so that we could enter Heaven, will be joy unspeakable. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory(1 Pet 1:7-8). Psalm 16:11 reads Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness or joy; at the right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
In our Earthly lives we endure sufferings and hardships; sometimes it’s hard to think about what comes later and especially death and after death, what. Yet one day we will not worry about the trials of this life and we will surely know of our great future which will be our present, for all time. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Cor 13:12). As as aside, isn’t it good to know that we will be recognized in Heaven! At that point, when the glass is removed we shall see Christ and not only that but we will like him. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2). He shall write His name on our foreheads for evermore. And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads (Rev 22:4).
Christ is waiting for us and I personally believe we will see him as we are dying. Acts 7:55-56 tell about Stephen’s sight of Jesus right before he was stoned: But he (Stephen), being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. We are going to die, we know that, but when we do it will be a time for celebration as we will be with Christ. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord(2 Cor 5:8). So as Christians we look and we await his call for us to join him, whether by death or in the clouds. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Tit 2:13-14).
Most readers know Fanny Crosby was made blind at a very young age by tragical application of medicine to her eyes. Years later at the age of 71 Ms Crosby wrote My Savior First of All in further response to a statement by a minister that it was a pity God did not give her sight. She answer “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition to my Creator, it would have been that I should be born blind?” The minister asked why. Fanny Crosby responded, “Because, when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.” The music for My Savior First of All was written by renowned song-leader and hymnist Dr. John R. Sweeney who co-published the lyrics and music in Songs of Love and Praisein 1894. The hymn was spread quickly to Europe by evangelistic campaigns. This account of the song is given in the Cyber Hymnal. There appeared in London a man who styled himself the messiah, and for many weeks a large crowd was attracted to him. One night, however, as he was talking in one of the open squares in the city, a small band of the Salvation Army passed along, singing, “I shall know Him, I shall know Him, By the print of the nails in His hand.” The great throng joined in the chorus. Finally someone pointed at the self-styled Christ and said, “Look at his hands and see if the print of the nails is there.” They did as directed, but no print appeared, and they at once left off following him. Such is the same with many of Crosby’s hymns; they have kindled hearts around the world.
When my life work is ended, and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see;
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.
Chorus: I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hand.
Oh, the soul thrilling rapture when I view His blessèd face,
And the luster of His kindly beaming eye;
How my full heart will praise Him for the mercy, love and grace,
That prepare for me a mansion in the sky.
Oh, the dear ones in glory, how they beckon me to come,
And our parting at the river I recall;
To the sweet vales of Eden they will sing my welcome home;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.
Through the gates to the city in a robe of spotless white,
He will lead me where no tears will ever fall;
In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.
Sources: http://www.hymnalaccompanist.com/Story/story-c620.html; http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/m/y/mysavior.htm; http://www.scriptureandmusic.com/Music/Text_Files/My_Savior_First_Of_All.html; King James Version of the Holy Bible