Hymn Story: God Be With You Till We Meet Again

God Be with You till We meet Again was written by Jeremiah E. Rankin around 1880. It is undated but he gave a copy to Sankey in 1882.

Rankin was born on January 2, 1828 in Thornton, New Hampshire. He received his doctorate in 1869 and served as president of Howard University a few years. He wrote and published a number of hymns. He died in 1904.

Jeremiah Rankin

In 1899, he wrote about the hymn  “It was written as a Christian good-bye, and first sung in the First Congregational Church, of which I was minister for fifteen years. We had Gospel meetings on Sunday nights, and our music was intentionally of the popular kind. I wrote the first stanza, and sent it to two gentlemen for music. The music which seemed to me to best suit the words was written by T. G. Tomer, teacher of public schools in New Jersey, at one time on the staff of General 0. 0. Howard. After receiving the music (which was revised by Dr. J. W. Bischoff, the organist of my church), I wrote the other stanzas.”

The hymn became at once popular, and has been translated into several languages. 

It is based on Genesis 31:49 “It was also called Mizpah, because he said, ‘May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.“  and 2 Corinthians 1:2 “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”.

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