Wayne S. Walker

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior…” (Phil. 3:20)

     INTRO.:  A song which talks about how joyful we can be because our citizenship is in heaven is “Alone at Eve” or “Walking Alone At Eve” (#210 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #450 in Sacred Selections for the Church).  The text was written by Thomas R. Sweatmon, who was born in 1876, possibly in Georgia.  His religious affiliation is unknown, but he was a minister and singing school teacher who in 1915 resided in Newnan, Coweta County, GA.  The Musical Visitor, published by the Fillmore Music House, mentioned some of Sweatmon’s songbooks.  The Jan., 1915, edition advertises Song Poems and Harmony Fittings by Thomas R. Sweatmon of Newnan, Coweta County, GA.  The Nov. edition of that year lists Versification and Composition by Thomas R. Sweatmon of Sargent, GA, also in Coweta County.  However, by 1917 he must have located to Louisville, KY, because the Nov. 1917, issue mentions Song Poems Revised by “Rev.” Thomas R. Sweatmon of Louisville, KY. 

     The tune (Slater) was composed by William Washington Slater (1885-1959).  Born in Logan County, AR, the oldest son of David and Melvina Slater, he moved at age five with his family to the vicinity of Sallisaw in eastern Oklahoma, where his father later died and the care of the family fell upon him.  David Slater had been a Baptist, but when Will was age sixteen he and his mother obeyed the gospel after being invited by a neighbor to attend a gospel meeting where they heard the preaching of W. D. Cecil.    In 1910, Will married Miss Nettie M. Weatherington, and in 1915, he began preaching at a schoolhouse named Shiloh in eastern Oklahoma.  His work as a gospel preacher took him into many states, but it is as a hymn writer that Slater is best remembered.  Some of his well-known hymns include “There’s a Home for the Soul,” the tune for Rue Porter’s “In Remembrance” beginning, “On this Lord’s day we assemble,”  and the four-part arrangement for Horatio R. Palmer’s “Angry Words.”

     Slater’s son, J. Nelson Slater, believes that the words of “Alone at Eve” were probably produced prior to 1915 when Sweatmon and Slater were students together at the Eureka Normal Music School in Stigler, OK.  Slater’s brother, Charlie Slater, indicates that Sweatmon had gone to visit a lady in the congregation who was up in years and had recently lost her husband.  When he asked her how she was doing, she replied, “I’m walking alone in the evening shades of life.”  As the conversation continued, she talked about walking alone but with great anticipation for the promised home of redeemed souls.  Sweatman captured these thoughts in his poem.  Slater evidently acquired it from Sweatmon, possibly arranging it since he is sometimes credited with being the author, and then provided the music.  The hymn was first published in 1917 and copyrighted by the Eureka Publishing Co.   Sweatmon died in 1969, perhaps in Kentucky.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, the song has appeared in the 1940 Praise and Revival Songs, the 1944 Gospel Songs and Hymns, the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion, and the 1958 Gospel Melody Songs all edited by W. W. Slater; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by R. C. Welch; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. N. Slater; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal edited by T. S. Teddlie; the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by A. H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by F. M. McCann; the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by J. P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by W. D. Jeffcoat; and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by R. J. Taylor Jr.; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

     This gentle, graceful song points our minds towards heaven.

I. In stanza 1, we are “walking alone at eve” and viewing the skies afar with the knowledge that beyond them are wonderful scenes above

“Walking alone at eve and viewing the skies afar,

Bidding the darkness come to welcome each silver star.

I have a great delight in the wonderful scenes above;

God in His power and might is showing His truth and love.”

 A. While walking alone at eve, we also need to remember that in order to go to heaven we must walk in a way that pleases God: Eph. 4:1

 B. What do we see as we are “viewing the skies afar”?  Ps. 19:1

 C. Even though we can look into the physical heavens, we know that beyond them there are wonderful scenes above where God dwells: Matt. 6:9, Rev. 4:1-4

II. In stanza 2, we are “sitting alone at eve” and dreaming the hours away while we look for God to come with His mercy

“Sitting alone at eve and dreaming the hours away,

Watching the shadows falling now at the close of day;

God in His mercy comes, with His Word He is drawing near,

Spreading His love and truth around me and everywhere.”

 A. While sitting alone at eve, we also need to remember that in order to go to heaven we must sit with Christ in heavenly places: Eph. 2:4-6

 B. Those who are sitting with Christ in heavenly places can expect that God will come and show them mercy: 2 Tim. 1:16-18

 C. This mercy is granted through the word of His grace: Acts 20:32

III. In stanza 3 we are closing our eye our eyes at eve and “thinking of heaven’s grace” with a longing to see our Lord face to face

“Closing my eyes at eve and thinking of Heaven’s grace,

Longing to see my Lord, yes, meeting Him face to face;

Trusting Him as my all where-so-ever my footsteps roam,

Pleading with Him to guide me on to the spirits’ home!”

 A. While closing our eyes at eve, we also need to remember that in order to go to heaven, we must spend our time thinking only on that which is right in the Lord’s sight: Phil. 4:8

 B. The fervent longing, yes, even hope, of the Christian is to see our Lord face to face: 1 Jn. 3:1-3

 C. But in order to achieve this goal, we must trust Him as our all in all: Ps. 37:3-5

     CONCL.:  The chorus expresses with fervor the desire of the Christian for the heavenly reward:

“O for a home with God, a place in His courts to rest,

Sure in a safe abode with Jesus and the blest;

Rest for a weary soul once redeemed by the Savior’s love,

Where I’ll be pure and whole and live with my God above!”

We can be reminded of the closeness with God that we should have here in this life and the joy of an even closer relationship with Him in heaven whenever we are “Alone at Eve.”

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