The Holy City

Some days, Overcomers just need a little reassurance regarding the ultimate victory that is headed our way.  I’m in the mood to hear the inspirational hymn called The Holy City.  About this hymn,  The African American Experience in Ohio 1850-1920 states this story:


 Thirty men, red-eyed and disheveled, lined up before a judge of the San Francisco police court. It was the regular morning company of “drunks and disorderlies.” Some were old and hardened, others hung their heads in shame. Just as the momentary disorder attending the bringing in of the prisoners quieted down, a strange thing happened. A strong, clear voice from below began singing:

                        “Last night I lay a-sleeping,

                        There came a dream so fair.”

  Last night! It had been for them all a nightmare or a drunken stupor. The song was such a contrast to the horrible fact that no one could fail of a sudden shock at the thought the song suggested.

                         “I stood in old Jerusalem,

                         Beside the temple there”

the song went on. The judge had paused. He made a quiet inquiry. A former member of a famous opera company, known all over the country, was awaiting trial for forgery. It was he who was singing in his cell.

Meantime the song went on and every man in the line showed emotion. One or two dropped on their knees; one boy at the end of the line, after a desperate effort at self-control, leaned against the wall, buried his face against his folded arms, and sobbed, “O mother, mother!”  The sobs, cutting to the very heart of the men who heard, and the song, still welling its way through the court room, blended in the hush.

At length one man protested.   “Judge,” said he “have we got to submit to this? We’re here to take our punishment, but this–”  He, too, began to sob.  It was impossible to proceed with the business of the court, yet the judge gave no order to stop the song. The police sergeant, after a surprised effort to keep the men in line, stepped back and waited with the rest. The song moved on to its climax:

              “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Sing, for the night is o’er!

              Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna for evermore!”

In an ecstacy [sic] of melody the last words rang out, and then there was silence.  The judge looked into the faces of the men before him. There was not one who was not touched by the song; not one in whom some better impulse was not stirred. He did not call the cases singly-a kind word of advice, and he dismissed them all. No man was fined or sentenced to the work-house that morning. The song had done more good than punishment could have accomplished.


This is one of those songs that can inspire a weary heart with the hope of vindication and the beauty of salvation.  Enjoy this link by Tenor Marino van Wakeren  


The Holy City Hymn

 Last night I lay a-sleeping
There came a dream so fair,
I stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there.
I heard the children singing,
And ever as they sang,
Me thought the voice of angels
From heaven in answer rang.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Lift up your gates and sing,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to your King!

And then me thought my dream was changed,
The streets no longer rang,
Hushed were the glad Hosannas
The little children sang.
The sun grew dark with mystery,
The morn was cold and chill,
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Hark! How the angels sing,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to your King!

And once again the scene was changed;
New earth there seemed to be;
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea;
The light of God was on its streets,
The gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter,
And no one was denied.
No need of moon or stars by night,
Or sun to shine by day;
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Sing for the night is o’er!
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna for evermore!

Categories Articles, Articles and Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on September 30, 2013

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