Wayne S. Walker

“And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying…for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4)

INTRO.:  A song which describes the blessings of heaven where there will be no more death, sorrow, or crying is “Where the Soul Never Dies” (#245 in Hymns for Worship Revised, #432 in Sacred Selections for the Church).    The text was written and the tune (Golden or Never Die) was composed both by William Matthew Golden, who was born on Jan. 28, 1878, in Webster Co., MS, to James and Camella Hood Golding.  The family surname was changed later.  Little accurate information is available on him, except that, according to George Pullen Jackson, he was from and lived in Mississippi.  Golden married Sarah Frances Dear of Rankin Co., MS, and their only child reportedly died young.  Sometimes he is confused with William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys, but they are not the same person.

The exact date and circumstances surrounding the writing of the song are unknown.  It is said that he produced most of his songs while serving an eight-year sentence in a state penitentiary, though there seems to be no record as to which penitentiary and why he was there.  Golden copyrighted it in 1914, and it appeared as early as 1915 in Calvary Hymns edited and published by R. H. Cornelius of Ft. Worth, TX.  It was also found in the 1922 Songs of the Coming King: The Message Due The World, compiled in Ft. Smith, AR, by Robert E. Winsett (1876-1952).   In addition, Golden wrote, “A Beautiful Life” (1918).  Furthermore, one website (www.hymnary.org/person/Golden_WM) credits Golden with some twenty additional songs.  The 1930 census listed him as an author of music living at Mathiston in Choctaw Co, MS.  He died on May 13, 1934, in a traffic accident near Eupora, MS, and his body was buried at Spring Valley Cemetery South in Webster County, MS.  The copyright of “Where the Soul Never Dies” was renewed in 1942 by Winsett.  It was later owned by the editor and publisher of Sacred Selections for the Church, Ellis J. Crum (1928-2011).

There is evidence that Golden and his family were associated with churches of Christ.  Golden’s cousin, William Addison Golden, lived in Lamar Co., AL, and was buried there in the cemetery of the Liberty church of Christ.  William Addison’s family had moved to Fayette Co., AL and then on to Lamar Co.  Also, the Freed-Hardeman Connections website has the following information: “In 1918, William Golden wrote the words and music to ‘A Beautiful Life’ which is known and loved for its bass lead in the chorus and ‘Where The Soul Never Dies.’”  And at The Restoration Movement website (http://www.therestorationmovement.com/sanderson.htm) there is an autobiography of L. O. Sanderson entitled “The Lord Has Been Mindful Of Me” which was published posthumously in the Gospel Advocate (Vol. CXLVI, No. 9; September, 2004; pages. 26-28), where Sanderson wrote, “Among those in the church who wrote songs and hymns, I knew most of them. I never met Austin Taylor (writer of ‘Closer to Thee’), William M. Golden nor those associated with Trio Publishing Co., Quartet Publishing Co., and Firm Foundation. I did know E.L. Jorgenson, W.W. Slater, Albert Brumley and Tillitt S. Teddlie.”  Thus, Sanderson identifies Golden as among “those in the church who wrote songs and hymns.”

Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, “Where the Soul Never Dies” appeared in the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise both edited by Reuel Lemmons; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie; the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard;  the 1975 Supplement to the 1938 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 originally edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; the 1994 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat; the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church and the 2010 Songs for Worship and Praise both edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.; and the 2012 Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs edited by Steve Wolfgang et. al.; as well as Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.

The song mentions a number of characteristics that will be true of the eternal state of the righteous in heaven.

I. Stanza 1 teaches us that heaven is a promised land for us as Canaan was for Israel

To Canaan’s land I’m on my way,

Where the soul (of man) never dies;

My darkest night will turn to day,

Where the soul (of man) never dies.

A. Just as Joshua brought the people of Israel into Canaan, so Jesus has a rest for God’s people in the heavenly promised land: Heb. 4:8-9

B. And Jesus Himself is the way by which we can arrive there: Jn. 14:4-6

C. In that eternal home, our darkest night will turn to day because there is no night there: Rev. 21:25

II. Stanza 2 teaches us that heaven is a place where we shall spend eternity

A rose is blooming there for me,

Where the soul (of man) never dies;

And I will spend eternity,

Where the soul (of man) never dies.

A. The concept of roses never fading symbolizes the fact that the life which we shall have there will be everlasting: Matt. 25:46

B. The word “blooming” reminds us of the tree of life which is beside the river of waters of life in that heavenly city: Rev. 22:1-2

C. Some people object to using the term “spend” eternity because, they say, “spending” implies that someday it will be all “spent” or used up and gone, but most people simply understand that this is just a way our finite language has of talking about the eternal life which God has promised: 1 Jn. 2:25

III. Stanza 3 teaches us that heaven is a place where all will be light

A love light beams across the foam,

Where the soul (of man) never dies;

It shines to light the shores of home,

Where the soul (of man) never dies.

A. There will be no need of the sun or moon in heaven, because God Himself and the Lamb will be the light: Rev. 21:23

B. This “love light” beams across the foam of the sea which is now separating us from God: Rev. 4:6

C. It shines to light the shores of home to show that it is possible for us to cross that sea in our journey toward the heavenly home: Rev. 15:1-2

IV. Stanza 4 teaches us that heaven is a place of everlasting joy

My life will end in deathless sleep,

Where the soul (of man) never dies;

And everlasting joys I’ll reap,

Where the soul (of man) never dies.

A. The Bible teaches that until the second coming our lives will end someday because it is appointed for us to die once: Heb. 9:27

B. However, it will be a “deathless sleep” in that the idea of “those who are asleep in Christ” refers to their bodies but not their souls: 1 Thess. 4:13-14

C. Then, after the resurrection, the soul with its new immortal body will enter the joy of the Lord: Matt. 25:41

V. Stanza 5 teaches us that heaven is a fair land where there will be no parting

I’m on my way to that fair land,

Where the soul (of man) never dies;

Where there will be no parting hand,

Where the soul (of man) never dies.

A. If we are on our way, then we have entered the strait gate and are traveling the narrow way: Matt. 7:13-14

B. The end of that way is a fair land because it is a heavenly country prepared by God: Heb. 11:16

C. The reason that there will be no parting hand there is that those who are in heaven will have eaten the bread of life by which they will not die: Jn. 6:50-51

CONCL.:  The chorus continues to emphasize the blessed and eternal state of the righteous in heaven.

(Dear friends, there’ll be) No sad farewells,

(There’ll be) No tear dimmed eyes,

Where all is (peace and joy and) love,

And the soul (of man) never dies.

Some have objected to the song, asking, “Where is the spiritual body with which we are raised and why doesn’t the song say that it will never die too?”  No, the song doesn’t mention the spiritual body, but the Bible does in 1 Cor. 15:35-54.  At the same time, the song doesn’t exclude it either.  It simply says that the soul which will inhabit that spiritual body will never die.  Both soul and body go through the process of physical death here on earth when the soul is separated from the body, but that will never happen in heaven.  The longer the Christian lives here on earth, growing older and facing death, the more he can look forward to that place “Where the Soul Never Dies.”

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