When He Cometh

William Orcutt Cushing –1823-1902

“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:4

When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.


Like the stars of the morning,
His brightness adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

He will gather, He will gather
The gems for His kingdom;
All the pure ones, all the bright ones,
His loved and His own.

Little children, little children,
Who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

As Christians, we should strive to live in the expectancy that Christ could return today. We can also carry this little children’s hymn and its message with us and share its truth with family and friends.  The Scriptural promise of Christ’s second coming is always a thrilling truth for believers to ponder. Beyond that, the thought of the Saviour creating a jewelled crown from little children who love Him is a fascinating pictorial concept. This hymn was written by the Rev. W. O. Cushing and set to music by G. F. Root, and is one of the most popular children’s hymns in the world.  William Orcutt Cushing conceived the idea for his “Jewel Song” text from the promise in Malachi 3:17: “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels” (KJV). Pastor Cushing wrote the text for the children in his own Sunday school in 1856.

Now suppose $100,000 was your whole life savings, would you give every cent of it to someone in need? William O. Cushing did something like that. In the nineteenth century, when $1,000 was a lot of money, he gave his entire life savings to pay for the education of a blind girl.

That is not what he is remembered for most, however. His fame is as a hymn writer. One of his earliest hymns was the song, “When He Cometh,” which compared Christians to jewels whom Christ would gather when he came. Other notable hymns were written after he had experienced great grief and loss. But that is getting ahead of the story.

William Orcutt Cushing was born in Hingham, Massachusetts on this date, December 31, 1823. His parents raised him as a Universalist, but by reading the Bible for himself as a teenager, he became an orthodox believer. At eighteen he was convinced the Lord wanted him to become a minister and he trained for it.

His first pastorate was at Searsburg, New York. There he met and married Rena Proper in 1854 (which was also the year he wrote “When He Cometh”). After that he served in Auburn, Brooklyn, Buffalo and Sparta, New York. With the decline of his wife’s health, William returned with her to Searsburg where she died in 1870.

After that, “creeping paralysis” stole his voice and prevented him from preaching any longer. He pleaded with the Lord to allow him to continue to serve in some capacity.

His prayer was granted. He wrote over 300 hymns. Some of these are still beloved by the church. “Follow on” was written in 1878 to a tune by Robert Lowry. “Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus; anywhere, everywhere…” it promises. “Under His Wings,” printed and sung by Ira Sankey, sprang out of Cushing’s personal suffering and was suggested by Psalm 17:8, “Hide me under the shadow of your wings.” Another of his famous hymns “Ring the Bells of Heaven” was written before his deep troubles had descended upon him. Composer George F. Root had sent him the tune. Cushing felt it needed joyful words and mused on it all day before the words came to him.

Cushing died in 1902 but his songs live on.

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