Christ My Song - 99
What shall we be, and whither shall we go - What shall we be?
(Carl Johann Philipp Spitta/Richard Massie/
Johannes Thomas Rüegg)
What shall we be?
1. What shall we be, and whither shall we go,
when the last conflict of our life is o'er,
and we return from wandering to and fro
to our dear home through heaven's eternal door;
when we shake off the last dust from our feet,
when we wipe off the last drop from our brow,
and our departed friends once more we greet,
the hope which cheers and comforts us below!
2. What shall we be, when we ourselves shall see
bathed in the flood of everlasting light,
and from all guilt and sin entirely free
stand pure and blameless in our Maker's sight;
no longer from his holy presence driven,
conscious of guilt, and stung with inward pain,
but friends of God and citizens of heaven,
to join the ranks of his celestial train!
3. What shall we be, when we drink in the sound
of heavenly music from the spheres above,
when golden harps to listening hosts around
declare the wonders of redeeming love;
when far and wide through the resounding air
loud Hallelujahs from the ransomed rise,
and holy incense, sweet with praise and prayer,
is wafted to the Highest through the skies!
4. What shall we be, when the freed soul shall rise
with unrestrained and bold aspiring flight
to him, who by his wondrous sacrifice
hath opened heaven, and scattered sin's dark night;
when from the eye of faith the thin veil drops,
like wreaths of mist before the morning's rays,
and we behold, the end of all our hopes,
the Son of God in full refulgent blaze!
5. What shall we be, when we shall hear him say:
"Come, O ye blessed," when we see him stand,
robed in the light of everlasting day,
before the throne of God at his right hand;
when we behold the eyes from which once flowed
tears o'er the sin and misery of man,
and the deep wounds from which the precious blood,
that made atonement for the world, once ran.
6. What shall we be, when hand in hand we go
with blessed spirits risen from the tomb,
where streams of living water softly flow,
and trees still flourish in primeval bloom;
where in perpetual youth no cheek looks old
by the sharp touch of cruel time impressed?
where no bright eye is dimmed, no heart grows cold,
no grief, no pain, no death invades the blessed?
7. What shall we be, when every glance we cast
at the dark valley underneath our feet,
and every retrospect of troubles past
makes heaven brighter and its joys more sweet;
when the remembrance of our earthly woe
gives a new relish to our heavenly peace,
and draws our hearts to him, to whom we owe
our past deliverance and our present bliss!
8. What shall we be, who have in Christ believed?
What through his grace will be our sweet reward?
Eye hath not seen, ear heard, or heart conceived,
what God for those who love him hath prepared:
Let us the steep ascent then boldly climb,
our toil and labour will be well repaid;
let us haste onward, till in God's good time
we reap the fruit, a crown that doth not fade.
Richard Massie, Lyra Domestica I, 1863, 140-142.
Translated from the German Wie wird uns sein, wenn endlich nach dem schweren - Wie wird uns sein?
of Carl Johann Philipp Spitta.