Sweet By and By
DESCRIPTION: "There's a land that is fairer than day, And by faith we can see it afar.... In the sweet by and by We shall meet on that beautiful shore." The singer describes the blessings and beauties that the faithful will enjoy in heaven
AUTHOR: Words: Sanford Fillmore Bennett (1836-1898) / Music: Joseph. Philbrick Webster (1819-1875)
EARLIEST DATE: 1868
KEYWORDS: religious nonballad
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (4 citations):
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 198-201, "Sweet By and By" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 355, "In The Sweet Bye And Bye" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Charles Johnson, One Hundred and One Famous Hymns (Hallberg, 1982), pp. 206-207, "Sweet By and By" (1 text, 1 tune)
ST RJ19198 (Full)
Elizabeth Cotten, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (on CloseHomeMS)
Harkins & Moran [pseuds. for Sid Harkreader w. Grady Moore], "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (Broadway 8117, c. 1930)
Haydn Quartet, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (Victor 1316, 1902)
Bela Lam & his Greene County Singers, "Sweet Bye and Bye" (OKeh 45177, 1928; rec. 1927)
Uncle Dave Macon, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (Vocalion 5162, 1927)
Margarethe Matzenauer, "In he Sweet Bye and Bye" (Pathe Actuelle 027519, n.d.)
cf. "The Preacher and the Slave" (tune)
cf. "The Cowboy's Dream" (tune)
The Preacher and the Slave (File: San221)
In the Sweet By and By
NOTES: Jackson writes, "It may be that the venerable old Gospel number 'Sweet By and By' is the only famous song written in a drugstore; it is CERTAINLY the only famous song written in a drugstore in Elkhorn, Wisconsin."
Johnson quotes from Bennet's papers, describing how it happened: one day in 1867, J. P. Webster (who also wrote the music for "Lorena") strolled into the Elkhorn drugstore in a grim mood. Asked what was wrong, he declared that it wasn't important; "It will be all right by and by." Sanford Fillmore Bennett, who owned the drugstore, heard the line scribbled these verses -- with the intent to write as song, according to what he said; Jackson claims it was to comfort Webster.
Personally, I probably would have gotten even more grim after reading such saccharine lyrics, but Webster at once cheered up and started to set them to music, and the music at least did well.
Since we're talking about useless Wisconsin lore, we might add that this is said to have been the favorite hymn of Charles Ingalls, the "Pa" of Laura Ingalls Wilder (it was written the year Laura was born, note, though Elkhorn is in the eastern part of the state, far from the Pepin country), and was reportedly played at his funeral in 1902 (see Donald Zochert, Laura, pp. 140-141). - RBW
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