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In The Sweet By and By

The
lyrical tenor of my Grandfather Gerhard Suderman poured from the small red disc
recording of his favorite song, In the
Sweet By and By
.  As I listen,
memories of the lessons he taught me of harmony and melody and strict rhythm
not only in music but also in life.  My
mother remembers her Papa’s music in her book, The Lines are Fallen. She recalls Papa’s hand on her shoulder
beating the rhythm to the steady “Eins, Zwei, Drei, Vier,” 1-2-3-4 count. Her
rhythm became flawless. The testimony of his faith in Christ Jesus was nestled
in the singing of hymns, and leading the church choir as a sacrifice of love. 
         Grandpa shunned the frivolous things of
life.  He was a farmer in central Kansas.
He took care of his family and his dear wife Anna and their children. Yet he
traded a horse and a cow for a new Kimball piano… and his two daughters were
given piano lessons, the others were given voice lessons. 
Mom recounts her dream to play for her Papa’s church choir.  This was denied until she became sixteen years old.
         I always wondered what he saw and knew
in his heart as he sang his favorite song, “There’s
a land that is fairer than day, And by faith we can see it afar. For the Father
waits over the way, To prepare us a dwelling place there
. In the sweet by
and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”  
         On Grandpa and Grandma’s fiftieth
wedding anniversary, I was chosen to sing a song for a small program.  Mom taught me Green Pastures by Helen Taylor. I rehearsed prior to the program
with Grandpa sitting in a rocking chair near by.  The lyrics contained these words, “Beside the green pastures, I’ll rest me
today. My Father’s green pastures, how peaceful are they, with fresh grasses
springing so cool to my tread. And kind spreading branches, And kind spreading
branches a shade overhead, Sweet hour of refreshment dear season of rest, No
fear can disturb me, no trouble molest; This quiet and calm shall my spirit
restore Until I go forth on my journey once more…. My Father’s green pastures
shall comfort my soul
.”
         As the last note of music faded, I
almost didn’t hear Grandpa say,  That is where I want to be!”  It wasn’t long after, when Grandpa was given
his prayerful desire and laid to rest beside the green pastures. 
         Some moments are memorable for a
lifetime, and this is one.  Grandpa was In the Sweet By and By. When I
considered all the songs and arias he knew and loved, I wondered, why he loved this
simple hymn?  He loved music by
Beethoven, Hayden, Stainer and Mozart. 
He purchased an Edison victrola with records by John Charles Thomas,
Madam Schuman-Heinke, and other great singers of that era.
         He ended each day with the same hymn in
German…with his family.  Mom translated
the song and included it in her family story….Wearied now, I seek my rest. Close my eyes in slumber blest; Father,
let Thy loving eye, O’er me like a cover li
e…(“Mude bin ich, geh zur Ruh.”
Jubeltone  (1894).
         The lyrics of the hymn, In the Sweet By and By, came through a
chance conversation between Dr. Fillmore Bennett and noted composer J.P Webster
who suffered from depression, and a nervous, sensitive nature.  In 1867, 
Dr. Bennett noted that Webster was again not feeling well.  “What is wrong now, Webster?”
         Webster replied, “It is no matter, it
will be all right by and by.”  Bennett
had a flash of insight.  “The sweet by
and by – would that not make a good hymn?”
         Without interest, Webster commented, “Maybe
it would.” 
         Bennett turned to his desk and wrote
three verses and handed it to Webster, who called for his violin.  His interest kindled, he began to play.  Within thirty minutes, the hymn my Grandpa
Suderman loved for a lifetime, was sung for the first time.  Seven years later Grandpa was born in1874. in
Pordenau, Russia, and came to this country as a small boy. 
         Another legacy my Grandfather gave me
was the preciousness of God’s Word.  My teenage
brothers and I sat impatiently at the breakfast table one school morning as
Grandpa read from the scripture.  As he
closed the Bible, his remark stays with me for years.  He commented, “I never noticed that truth
before!”  I knew he had read his worn
Bible often.  He gave me an insight that
day – no matter how often we read His Word, there is always another treasure of
wisdom to be found.
         He taught me when we are in harmony and
attuned to our Father in Heaven, He comforts and guides our hearts for an
eternity not for a moment but for an eternity. 
         Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my
cup of blessing.

You guard all that is mine. The land
you have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful
inheritance! 
Psalm 16:5-6.
         And we praise Him, We shall sing on that beautiful shore, The melodious songs of the
blest; And our spirits shall sorrow no more, Not a sigh for the blessing of
rest
.
         Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14.
         God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
Psalm 18:30.
         You faithfully answer our
prayers with awesome deeds,
 O God our Savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant
seas. You formed the mountains by your power
and armed yourself with mighty
strength. You quieted the raging oceans
 with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the
nations.
Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders.
From where the sun rises to where it sets, You inspire shouts of joy.
  Psalm 67:5-8.

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