1. We have heard from the bright, the holy land,
We have heard, and our hearts are so glad;
For we were a lonely pilgrim band,
And weary and worn and sad.
Now they tell us the pilgrims have a dwelling there
And no longer are wandering ones;
And we know that the goodly land is fair,
Where life’s pure river runs,
Where life’s pure river runs.
2. Now they say greenest fields are waving there,
And that never a blight ever know;
And the deserts wild are blooming fair,
And roses of Sharon grow.
There are loveliest birds within the bowers green,
And their songs are so blithe and so sweet;
With their warblings resounding ever new
And the angel’s harpings greet,
And the angel’s harpings greet.
3. We have heard of the palms, the robes, the crowns,
And the silvery band all in white;
Of the city fair with pearly gates,
With radiant, crystal light.
We have heard of the angels and of all the saints,
With their harps of pure gold, how they sing;
Of the mount, with the fruitful tree of life,
Of the leaves that healing bring,
Of the leaves that healing bring.
4. And the King of that country, He is fair,
He’s the joy and the light of the place;
In His beauty we’ll behold him there,
And bask in His smiling face,
We’ll be there, we’ll be there in just a little while;
We will join all the pure and the blest;
We’ll be given the palm, the robe, the crown,
And forever be at rest,
And forever be at rest.
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William Hyde wrote the words of this hymn. He was associated with the early Advent believers in 1845, shortly after the disappointment of 1844, and before the Sabbath was taught and kept. A few events led to the writing of this hymn. The first is recorded by Ellen White:
At this time Brother Wm. H. Hyde was very sick with dysentery. His symptoms were alarming, and the physician pronounced his case almost hopeless. We visited him and prayed with him, but he had come under the influence of certain fanatical persons, who were bringing dishonor upon our cause. We wished to remove him from among them, and petitioned the Lord to give him strength to leave that place. He was strengthened and blessed in answer to our prayers, and rode four miles to the house of Brother Patten, but after arriving there he seemed to be rapidly sinking.
The fanaticism and errors into which he had fallen through an evil influence seemed to hinder the exercise of his faith, but he gratefully received the plain testimony borne him, made humble confession of his fault, and took his position firmly for the truth.
Only a few who were strong in faith were permitted to enter the sickroom. The fanatics whose influence over him had been so injurious, and who had persistently followed him to Brother Patten’s, were positively forbidden to come into his presence, while we prayed fervently for his restoration to health. I have seldom known such a reaching out to claim the promises of God. The salvation of the Holy Spirit was revealed, and power from on high rested upon our sick brother and upon all present.
Brother Hyde immediately dressed and walked out of the room, praising God, and with the light of heaven shining upon his countenance. A farmer’s dinner was ready upon the table. Said he, “If I were well, I should partake of this food; and as I believe God has healed me, I shall carry out my faith.” He sat down to dinner with the rest, and ate heartily without injury. His recovery was complete and permanent.
– Life Sketches, p. 75,76
A short while after this, Hyde was present when Ellen White had a vision about the New Earth, which is recorded in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 67-69. He was so impressed with this vision that he wrote the words to this hymn. Ellen White describes it thus:
Brother Hyde, who was present during this vision, composed the following verses, which have gone the rounds of the religious papers, and have found a place in several hymn-books. Those who have published, read, and sung them have little thought that they originated from a vision of a girl persecuted for her humble testimony.
– Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 69
James White, in the Present Truth of November 1850, printed Ellen White’s vision and Hyde’s hymn and described it’s history like this:
Some may be interested in learning the origin of the hymn on the first page of this number. In the spring of 1845, the author of the vision published in this paper, was very sick, nigh unto death. The elders of the church were finally called, and the directions of the apostle [James 5:14, 15] were strictly followed. God heard, answered, and healed the sick. The Holy Spirit filled the room, and she had a vision of the “city,” “life’s pure river,” “green fields,” “roses of Sharon,” “songs” of “lovely birds,” the “harps,” “palms,” “robes,” “crowns,” the “mount” Zion, the “tree of life,” and the “King of that country” mentioned in the hymn. A brother took up his pen, and in a very short time composed the hymn from the vision.
During the months of her last illness, before Ellen White died, she sang this hymn often:
Again and again, during the earlier weeks of her illness, her voice was lifted in song. The words oftenest chosen were:
We have heard from the bright, the holy land,
We have heard, and our hearts are glad;
– Life Sketches, p. 446
There is also another hymn on this website, more recently composed on the same vision: Vision of the New Earth. The text of the vision is included below that song.