1. Lo, what a glorious sight appears, to our believing eyes!
    The earth and seas are passed away, and the old, rolling skies!
From the third heav’n, where God resides, that holy, happy place,
    The New Jerusalem comes down, adorned with shining grace.

2. Attending angels shout for joy, and the bright armies sing,
    Mortals, behold the sacred seat of your descending King.
The God of glory, down to men removes His blest abode;
    Men, the dear objects of His grace, and He, their loving God.

3. His own soft hand shall wipe the tears from ev’ry weeping eye;
    And pains, and groans, and griefs, and fears, and death itself shall die.
How long, dear Saviour, O how long shall this bright hour delay?
    Fly swifter round, ye wheels of time, and bring the welcome day.


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The text was written by Isaac Watts, as a poetic paraphrase of Revelation 21:1-4. The tune was adopted from a Nova Scotian folk song.

At the time this was written, most Protestants expected the descent of the Holy City to happen when Christ would return. But as the Advent truths unfolded, believers saw that there would be 1000 years between the coming of Christ, and the descent of the Holy City.

When Christ returns, the world will be engaged in warfare against His saints (Revelation 17). The saints do not fight with physical weapons, but like their Master, only with spiritual weapons, that is: the word of God. But the fallen churches, who will not accept the truths that call upon them to separate from the ways of the world, will persecute the saints, just as Jesus was persecuted by the Jewish leaders. This conflict will escalate until Jesus finally appears to deliver His people.

The events leading up to that deliverance are fierce: plagues, strife, wars, and natural disasters (Revelation 16). All of these decimate the earth and leave it in a wilderness state. The resurrected and translated saints then travel with Jesus to heaven, there to “judge the world” for one thousand years. Satan is left “bound” to the desolate earth, to ponder the work of destruction that he has caused.

The saints then take part in a judgment of the wicked, studying the history of evil, and how God worked to bring light and salvation to every person. They see how the lost threw away their salvation by rejecting the opportunities given to them in their time on earth. They understand much better that “the wages of sin is death.” They see more clearly that the final destruction of sin and sinners from the universe is a consequence of the sinner’s own actions and choices during his life on earth. When those truths are well established, and the work of judgment is finished, the Holy City descends out of heaven, and comes to the still-desolate earth.

First the wicked are raised from their graves, by virtue of Jesus’ death for all men. They are presented with the evidence against them. They are shown how many times Jesus was offered as a Saviour to them, but they spurned Him. They all bow down and confess the righteousness of God. This is not a confession unto salvation, for the time for that has passed. But it is an important part in the clearing of God’s character and government from the charges that Satan and wicked men have laid against it. Even the wicked admit that the evidence shows that God has been just and fair to them.

Then the heavens and earth, no longer upheld by God, are destroyed by fire (Rev. 20:7-15). A new heavens and earth are created, which will be ruled over by the “meek”.

That is the actual time-frame for this song. So, strictly speaking, it is not a “second advent” song, but more correctly a “third advent” song! Nevertheless, the preparation to be a part of the third coming takes place just before the second coming. Only those who have “made themselves ready” to meet the Lamb will be among those who live and reign with Him over the earth made new, and within the Holy City.

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