(Learn How to play In the Sweet By and By- video at bottom of page)
In the Sweet By and By was written by Sanford F. Bennett in 1868, music by Joseph P. Webster.
Sanford and Joseph were very good friends. Joseph Webster was a musician, and prone to fits of depression. Sanford eventually learned to recognize when Joseph was in one of his moods, and realized that giving him a project would usually lift his spirits. One day, Joseph showed up in very low spirits. Sanford said “Webster, what is the matter now?”
The answer became what Paul Harvey always called ‘The Rest of the Story.’ Joseph replied “It’s no matter, it will be all right by and by.” Struck by inspiration, Bennett wrote the words to “The Sweet By and By” as fast as his hand could write. Giving the new lyrics to his friend, Joseph’s imagination took over. In less than half an hour, they and a couple of other friends were all singing the hymn. Now the song is known and loved world-wide.
Sometimes, life is like that. Easy, certain, as if you knew all along what you were going to do. Other times it’s a struggle, only won after much effort. I know, we wouldn’t learn without the struggle. Success is only appreciated if it’s earned. But just between you and me, I could do with a little less struggle and a bit more success sometimes. :^)
Maybe that’s what “The Sweet By and By” is all about. No matter what happens, we can look forward to ‘a land that is fairer than day’. I especially like the line that says ‘We shall meet on that beautiful shore.’
I grew up on the shores of the Satilla river. There’s a certain place; it’s gone now, but years ago it was the most beautiful place on the river. Our family named it after the huge tree that’s been there for generations… the Tuplar tree. I only discovered years later that it’s proper name is most likely the ‘Swamp Black Tupelo’. Or maybe the ‘Water Tupelo’, also known as the Swamp Gum. Whatever you call it, to us it’s always been the ‘Tuplar tree’. Not just ‘a’ tuplar tree. THE Tuplar tree. Last time I looked, the Tuplar was still there, but a sad reminder of the glory it held in my youth.
Getting back to the point, when I think of meeting on ‘that beautiful shore’, this is the image I hold. Mornings watching sunrise burn early mist off the river. The golden glowing sunsets as I turn the boat around and head back home. I can’t imagine a better, more suitable or lovelier place to meet back up with those who’ve gone before, and those who’ll be following after.
For me, the ‘sweet by and by’ will always be at the Tuplar tree of my childhood.