Beaulah Land: Words by Edgar P. Stites; Music by John R. Sweney
I’ve reached the land of corn and wine,
And all its riches freely mine;
Here shines undimm’d one blissful day,
For all my night has pass’d away.
O Beulah land, sweet Beulah land,
As on thy highest mount I stand,
I look away across the sea,
Where mansions are prepared for me,
And view the shining glory shore,
My heav’n, my home forevermore.
The Saviour comes and walks with me,
And sweet communion here have we;
He gently leads me with His hand,
For this is heaven’s borderland.
A sweet perfume upon the breeze
Is borne from ever vernal trees,
And flow’rs that never fading grow
Where streams of life forever flow.
The zephyrs seem to float to me,
Sweet sounds of heaven’s melody,
As angels, with the white-robed throng,
Join in the sweet redemption song.
Scripture reference: You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. – Isaiah 62:4.
A very beautiful hymn that is usually mistaken in reference to heaven. For many years I thought Beulah land meant heaven, it does not mean that at all. Beulah land is the land that borders the final destination just as Moses viewed the Promised Land although he never entered it. It is a stand point like Mt. Pisgah’s lofty height. Here are the meanings of those key words in this song. Hephzibah means “my delight” and Beulah means “married”. Hephzibah means literally, my delight is in her. Beulah means literally, married.
If you check in many hymnbooks which are arranged in topical order, you will always find this hymn placed in the section for heaven or eternal life. It is because many people think of Beulah land as heaven. However, the term Beulah in prophecy applies to the church, and the same thing is true of the song. Beulah Land is not heaven but “heaven’s border land” as it were – where the zephyrs simply float to us the sounds of heaven’s melody as it is sung by the angels who join with the white-robed throng already in glory to sing the sweet redemption song. This is confirmed by the chorus:
“O Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land, As on thy highest mount I stand,
I look away across the sea, Where mansions are prepared for me,
And view the shining glory shore, My heaven, my home forever more.”
Yes, heaven is in the future for the faithful child of God. But right now, we are in this land of Beulah, where we can stand on the mountains and look away across the sea of death to a land where mansions are prepared for us and thus by faith view the shining glory shore where we shall reach our heavenly home for evermore, just as Moses climbed Mt. Nebo to view the Promised Land before he died (Deut. 34.1).
Certainly, the song does look forward to a home in heaven, but it also teaches us that right now we have all spiritual blessings in Christ and that we need to be using all these wonderful blessings that God has given us to be preparing for that eternal reward (Eph. 1.3, 1 Tim. 4.8). And this we do while we live on this earth as spiritual citizens of God’s “Beulah Land.”
About the Hymn: “Beulah Land” is a song whose text was written by Edgar Page Stites, who was born on Mar. 22, 1836. Stites frequently used the pseudonym “Edgar Page” and he died on Jan. 7, 1921. He produced several hymns, including “Simply Trusting Every Day.” The tune for “Beulah Land” was composed by John Robson Sweney (1837-1899). The hymn was written over a two week period in 1876. Stites only managed to write two verses and the chorus the first Sunday and got overwhelmed with the message of his hymn and fell on his face in prayer. On the following Sunday he wrote the third and fourth verses, and again he was so influenced by emotion that he could only pray and weep. The first time the hymn was sung was at the regular Monday morning meeting of Methodists in Philadelphia-Pennsylvania. A certain Bishop McCabe sang it to the assembled ministers and since then, the hymn has been a beloved of many. It is said that Stites never received any payments for his songs. Perhaps that is why they have had such a wide popularity. Sitites often said that he could not do work for the Master and receive pay for it. The song poetically describes many of the blessings that God’s people have today.
Throughout the Old Testament, there are many prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, the establishment of His spiritual kingdom or church, and the nature of His people under the new covenant. One such prophecy is the one listed in the Isaiah 62: 4 text. In this context, Isaiah is talking about Jerusalem. The prophet here is using the physical city of Jerusalem as a prophetic symbol of the spiritual Jerusalem to be ushered in by the Messiah. He foretells how that the Gentiles will see its righteousness and it shall be called by a new name, which is usually understood to be a prophecy of the fact that after the gospel began to be preached to the Gentiles, God’s people would be called by the new name of Christians. And then we have the statement saying that Jerusalem would no more be called Forsaken and Desolate but Hephzibah (“my delight”) and Beulah (“married”). The point being made apparently is that because of its sinfulness, God’s chosen city of Jerusalem in the Old Testament became forsaken and desolate, but under the new covenant of the Messiah, that spiritual entity for which Jerusalem stood will not be forsaken and desolate like Jerusalem of the Old Testament but will be God’s delight and married to the Lord.
Couple of comments on the lyrics:
“I’ve reached the land of corn and wine: A clear message of relief as we have arrived at the land of all riches and they are all freely mine. All my nights have passed away and joy awaits me. These spiritual riches are symbolized as “corn and wine.” Wine in the Bible does not have to be alcoholic. And throughout the Old Testament, corn or grain and wine are used to represent the great blessings that God has provided for His people: Deut. 7.13, Psa. 4.7, Joel 2.19. Hence, “land of corn and wine” is not even referring to physical grain and literal wine, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, but simply represents the great riches that God’s people have in Christ: Rom. 11.33.
“Here shines undimmed one blissful day, For all my night has passed away.” This might make some think immediately of heaven where there will be no night, but the fact is that even here, in Christ we have the inheritance of light because we have been delivered from the power of darkness: Col. 1.12-13. In truth, the blessings that we shall enjoy perfectly in heaven are received to a lesser degree even here on earth.
“My Savior comes and walks with me, And sweet communion here have we; In these words we’re told that we have fellowship with the Saviour. He gently leads me by His hand, For this is heaven’s borderland.” While Jesus obviously does not walk literally with us as He did on earth nearly 2000 years ago, He has promised that as long as we follow Him, He will abide with us and dwell in us: Matt. 28.18-20, Eph. 3.17. As we walk in His light, we have fellowship or communion with Him: 1 Jn. 1.5-7. And in so doing, He leads us by His hand in the strait and narrow way that leads to everlasting life: Matt. 7.13-14
“A sweet perfume upon the breeze Is borne from ever-vernal trees, And flowers that, never-fading, grow Where streams of life forever flow.” Here we have the assurance that we have life. I can smell the perfume of a beautiful land even before I step a foot there. As perfume borne by the wind from budding trees and the sight of flowers growing are signs of life: Gen. 1.11-12, so is Jesus Christ who came to bring us spiritual life: Jn. 10.10. And when we are crucified with Christ, we can find the life that is in Him: Gal. 2.20.
“The zephyrs seem to float to me Sweet sounds of heaven’s melody,
As angels with the white-robed throng Join in the sweet redemption song.” Here we have the hope of heaven. Zephyrs are soft, southerly breezes which bring pleasant weather–cf.: Acts 27.13. These metaphorical zephyrs figuratively bring to us sweet sounds of heaven’s melody because of all the blessings that God’s people have through Christ in His spiritual kingdom, the greatest is the earnest expectation of an eternal home in heaven forever with the Lord: 1 Pet. 1.3-5. Thus, in the Bible, we are given a glimpse of the angels with the white-robed throng to “whet our appetite” as it were for this home: Rev. 7.9-17, 21.1-4.