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  • Writer's pictureTheFormidableGenealogist

Beautiful River

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

I need to go through a box of old books that belonged to my parents. Today I pulled out a random volume. It's a church hymnal. I have many copies of different hymnals, so why would I need another? Plus, my parents had hundreds of books. There was no name in the front of the book to explain where it had come from. I didn't know if it was a family item or something they picked up for pocket change at a garage sale.

I flipped to the back of the book and saw a list of favorite hymns. Written in my grandmother's handwriting. (I'd know her loopy 2s anywhere.) This hymnal must have been hers. There also a notation about her own Grandma's birthdate, in case there was any remaining doubt.

There's this note too:

note in a hymnal

"Funeral songs for me." I sat with my grandmother 18 years ago, after she found out her time left on earth would be short. She told me the songs she wanted at her funeral. "Beautiful River" wasn't one of them. At least I don't remember it. I remember we sang "Perfect Day," because it wasn't in any hymnal I had, and I looked all over earth and The Internet to find the sheet music for it.

So today I turned to page 202 and sang a couple of verses of "Beautiful River" for my grandmother. The chorus ends with "...the river, that flows by the throne of God."

If my grandmother now has a throne, it must be a rocking chair. She spent countless hours in her earthly rocking chair. My sister now has that same old chair in her home, from which she sometimes video-chats her own grandchildren.

an old hymn


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