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How A Favorite Hymn Was Written

The young readers of The Etude will be pleased to read about the making of that much-loved hymn, “In The Sweet Bye and Bye.”

Dr. S. F. Bennett, who was engaged in newspaper work in Wisconsin prior to the war of the Rebellion, turned his attention to medicine after the war and located in Elkhorn, Wis., to practice his profession. He had always been known among his friends, and to some extent to the public, as a writer of verse. In 1867, in conjunction with his friend, Mr. J. P. Webster, a minister, he undertook to prepare for publication a Sunday-school hymn book. One morning Dr. Bennett called upon his friend, and observing that the latter, who was much given to depression of spirit, was suffering from one of his habitual attacks, said to him:

“Why, Webster! what is the matter now?”

“Oh, nothing much,” replied his companion, “just one of my bad spells. It’ll all be right by and by.”

“Oh, yes,” returned Bennett, “in the sweet bye and bye.”

Suddenly the words he had uttered suggested a hymn on the theme, and, asking for some paper and a pencil, he stepped to a table close by and began to write as rapidly as his pencil would move. In a few moments he had finished the hymn, and, turning, handed the lines to his friend. Webster’s face speedily lighted with a smile, and without saying anything he stepped forward, took up his violin and began to play. It was a simple melody he was expressing, but something about it touched the soul with a feeling both sad and sweet.

“I think I have it, Bennett!” observed Webster, with a look of satisfaction.

“Yes; I’m sure of it!” added Bennett, and soon the two were singing together the song which was destined to become famous throughout the world. In less than a fortnight the children were singing and whistling the song on the streets, while its fame began to extend everywhere.


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You are reading How A Favorite Hymn Was Written from the July, 1906 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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