Little Children, Then Won't You Be Glad?
DESCRIPTION: "Little children, then won't you be glad (x2), That you have been to heav'n, And you're going to go again, For to try on the long white robe..." "King Jesus, he was so strong That he jarred down the gates of hell." "Don't you remember what you promise..."
EARLIEST DATE: 1867 (Allen/Ware/Garrison)
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad Jesus hell
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Allen/Ware/Garrison, p. 87, "Little Children, Then Won't You Be Glad?" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [217 words]: This is a curious mix of Biblical and non-Biblical material. The white robes are Biblical enough, being mentioned especially in the Revelation to John (Rev. 3:5, 18, 4:4, 6:11, 7:9-14).
The mention of the Harrowing of Hell, however, is not Biblical at all; it is a Catholic legend, and not a particularly early one. According to Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church,. second edition, Oxford, 1963 (I use the 1967 Oxford editon), the "Old Roman Creed" which seems to have inspired the Apostle's Creed does not mention Jesus's descent into Hell. As far as we know, a Gallican creed of the sixth century is the first to include the phrase "he descended into Hell." This was later adopted into the Apostle's Creed (mid-eighth century?), but it will be evident that that Apostle's Creed is in fact not apostolic. The Nicene Creed mentions the descent into Hell not at all. And the detail that Jesus actually broke the Gates of Hell is presumably a still later embellishment (known, e.g., to Dante).
The mention of a chariot and its wheels is reminiscent of the first chapter of Ezekiel.
The reference to feeding the sheep is imagery from the Gospel of John, though the language appears to me to be inspired by both John 10 and John 21.
All in all, this looks like a very Catholic song to me.
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