I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.@Revelation 20:12
portrait
James M. Black
(1856–1938)

James M. Black, in Re­vi­val Hymns, Se­lect­ed and Ar­ranged, ed­it­ed by J. M. Kerr (To­ron­to, On­tar­io, Can­a­da: Will­iam Briggs, 1889) (🔊 pdf nwc). This song was sung in the 1941 Acad­e­my Award win­ning mo­vie Serg­eant York.

For an­oth­er treat­ment of this theme, see The Roll Call in Heav­en.

While a teach­er in a Sun­day-school [in Will­iams­port, Penn­syl­van­ia] and pre­si­dent of a young peo­ple’s so­ci­e­ty, says the au­thor of this hymn, I one day met a girl, four­teen years old, poor­ly clad and the child of a drunk­ard. She ac­cept­ed my in­vi­ta­tion to at­tend the Sun­day-school, and joined the young peo­ple’s so­c­i­ety.

One ev­en­ing at a con­se­cra­tion-meet­ing, when mem­bers an­swered the roll-call by re­peat­ing Scrip­ture texts, she failed to re­spond. I spoke of what a sad thing it would be, when our names are called from the Lamb’s Book of Life, if one of us should be ab­sent.

And I said, O God, when my own name is called up yon­der, may I be there to re­spond! I longed for some­thing suit­a­ble to sing just then, but I could find noth­ing in the books. We closed the meet­ing, and on my way home I was still wish­ing that there might be a song that could be sung on such oc­ca­sions.

The thought came to me, Why don’t you make it? I dis­missed the idea, think­ing that I could ne­ver write such a hymn. When I reached my house my wife saw that I was deep­ly trou­bled, and ques­tioned me, but I made no re­ply.

Then the words of the first stan­za came to me in full. In fif­teen min­utes more I had com­posed the oth­er two vers­es. Go­ing to the pi­a­no, I played the mus­ic just as it is found to­day in the hymn books, note for note, and I have ne­ver dared to change a sin­gle word or a note of the piece since.

Sankey, pp. 302–03

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound,
And time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather
Over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder,
I’ll be there.

Refrain

When the roll, is called up yonder,
When the roll, is called up yonder,
When the roll, is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder
I’ll be there.

On that bright and cloudless morning
When the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather
To their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder,
I’ll be there.

Refrain

Let us labor for the Master
From the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over,
And our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder,
I’ll be there.

Refrain