Shall We Gather at the River

 
 

Robert Lowry (1826-1899) wrote over 500 hymns in his time. One of the hymns that he penned was "Shall We Gather at the River" (also known as "The River"). The song came to him in a vision as he was reclining on a sofa one hot July day. In his days, most hymns about rivers exclusively were referencing the Jordan River. Crossing the Jordan was a symbol of overcoming death for the Israelites.

Instead of conforming to the traditions of his day, Lowry was moved to write a hymn about the River of Life which is referenced in Revelation. We also see numerous references to the water of life, which is Christ.

This simple hymn has been sung by saints for many generations. It is a hymn of great joy that churches should sing together to proclaim the goodness of God's grace and the life that Christ offers. It is also a hymn of anticipation and an encouragement to press on. Looking to the day that we will gather in the new earth when sorrow and pain are things of the past.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Revelation 22:1)