WHEN THE MORNING COMES (We’ll Understand It Better By and By)

written in 1904

The Story

Charles Tindley (1851-1933) didn’t have answers to all the questions in life.

He was born a slave. His mother died when he was young. His father hired Charles out wherever his father could place him… until his father was sold and separated from him. He plowed fields 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, and then ran 10 miles to night school so he could learn to read and write.

When he moved north to Philadelphia, Charles started working as a church janitor. Then he felt the Lord wanted him in the ministry.

One Sunday morning in 1904, he spoke of the 12 apostles who were always trying to put Jesus on their timetable. They wanted Jesus to set up His Kingdom right then. They wanted Jesus to call down fire from Heaven right then. They wanted answers right then. They didn’t know why they had to wait.

Charles was known for being a captivating preacher, and for also taking an active role in the betterment of the people in his community. His songs were an outgrowth of his preaching ministry, often introduced during his sermons. Charles was able to draw people of multiple races to his church ministry; likewise, his songs have been adopted and proliferated by white and black churches alike.

Charles told his congregation that we all still want answers… right now. But sometimes we have to wait. How long do we have to wait? For some answers we may have to wait until the morning comes. Then “we’ll understand it better by and by”.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – trust God with the answers to the questions you might have.

We are tossed and driv’n on the restless sea of time;
somber skies and howling tempests oft succeed a bright sunshine;
in that land of perfect day, when the mists have rolled away,
we will understand it better by and by.

Refrain

By and by, when the morning comes, when the saints of God are gathered home,
we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome, for we’ll understand it better by and by.

We are often destitute of the things that life demands,
want of food and want of shelter, thirsty hills and barren lands;
we are trusting in the Lord, and according to God’s Word,
we will understand it better by and by.  (Refrain)

Trials dark on every hand, and we cannot understand
all the ways that God could lead us to that blessèd promised land;
but He guides us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die,
for we’ll understand it better by and by.  (Refrain)

Temptations, hidden snares often take us unawares,
and our hearts are made to bleed for a thoughtless word or deed;
and we wonder why the test when we try to do our best,
but we’ll understand it better by and by.  (Refrain)

The version we most often sing in our hymnals today has been “tweaked”, with some of the references to slavery having been removed…

Trials dark on ev’ry hand,  and we cannot understand
all the ways that God would lead us to that blessed Promised Land;
but He’ll guide us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die;
we will understand it better by and by.

Chorus:
By and by, when the morning comes, when the saints of God are gathered home,
we will tell the story how we’ve overcome; we will understand it better by and by.

Oft our cherished plans have failed, disappointments have prevailed,
and we’ve wandered in the darkness, heavyhearted and alone;
but we’re trusting in the Lord, and according to His Word,
we will understand it better by and by.  (Chorus)

Temptations, hidden snares often take us unawares.
And our hearts are made to bleed for some thoughtless word or deed.
And we wonder why the test when we try to do our best,
we will understand it better by and by.  (Chorus)

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