MANSION OVER THE HILLTOP written in 1949
A local businessman was on the platform telling the crowd how he had lost everything. He had let many of his employees go… and he was going deeper and deeper in debt. There seemed to be no way out, and he had begun to question God. So, one day he got into his car and drove. He didn’t know where he was going, but he eventually found himself on a narrow trail, unable to turn around. He came upon an old shack. It was needing a paint job and repairs of all kinds. The broken window glasses were replaced with oil paper. Many shingles on the roof were missing; he wondered how the house was even still standing. It looked abandoned.
But it wasn’t. There was a little girl – about 8 or 9 years old – in front of the shack, playing with a broken doll. She had a big smile on her face and was obviously very happy. How could she be so happy in such a setting? Maybe she, even as young as she was, would be able to share the secret of happiness with him.
The businessman got out of his car and asked her why she was so happy. She answered, “My daddy just inherited a lot of money, and he is going to build a big house over a hill out there, and I can’t wait to get there. I don’t know when it will be done, but I won’t have to live in this house forever.”
As that businessman told that story from the stage, Ira Stanphill (1914-1993), the great gospel songwriter, was in that crowd. When he heard the man’s testimony, he immediately thought of John 14:2: “In My Father’s are many mansions”. That evening, when he got home, he wrote this song.
This is one of the earliest songs I remember singing in a children’s choir as a kid… growing up in Hope Reformed Church in Grand Haven, MI. It was a fun song to sing. It still is!
Read this hymn, and – today – make your reservations in that mansion over the hilltop.
I’m satisfied with just a cottage below, a little silver and a little gold;
but in that city where the ransomed will shine, I want a gold one that’s silver-lined.
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop,
in that bright land where we’ll never grow old;
and someday yonder we will never more wander,
but walk the streets that are purest gold.
Tho’ often tempted, tormented and tested and, like the prophet, my pillow a stone;
and tho’ I find here no permanent dwelling, I know He’ll give me a mansion my own.(Chorus)
Don’t think me poor or deserted or lonely, I’m not discouraged, I’m heaven bound;
I’m just a pilgrim in search of a city, I want a mansion, a harp and a crown. (Chorus)