I love this song (or poem) because it clarifies some things that are often left unsaid by other songs. The hymnals on my shelf have plenty of songs that talk about the beauty of Heaven, or how our pain and tears will be gone there, or how Christian loved ones will be reunited with each other. All good things, mind you. But this one’s different, and I wish more would follow in its footsteps.

First, it reminds us that when God says that those who take Him at His word and turn to Christ will eventually be with Him in Heaven, He is not offering a cookie at the end of the day for the well-behaved. Those who are there stand there only on the merit of someone else– Christ himself.

Second, I think it’s a great reminder that while Jesus commanded us to store up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and while God’s promises about future relief encourage us today (2 Corinthians 4:13-18), the greatest joy of Heaven is a  restored relationship with our Creator. Yes, Great Aunt Margaret may be there, but Jesus said that eternal life is knowing Him, and Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with God (apparently Aunt Margaret did come to mind first). And I do think God intended us to look forward to something as beautiful as streets paved with gold, but not in a gloating, self-conscious way. Even the fact that I am reconciled to God has nothing to do with me; it’s God showcasing his goodness. “The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face…” The glory of Heaven is the glory of God–and I can’t think of anything better to look forward to.

by Anne R Cousin, 1824- 1906
*(excerpts; the original is much longer)

The sands of time are sinking, the dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for—the fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O Christ, He is the fountain, the deep, sweet well of love!
The streams of earth I’ve tasted, more deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

O I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved’s mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner into His “house of wine.”
I stand upon His merit—I know no other stand,
Not even where glory dwelleth in Immanuel’s land.

The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.