1. 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! 2. 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! 3. 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! Chorus: 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!
Lyrics: James Milton Black
Music: James Milton Black
Tune: WHEN THE ROLL IS CALLED/ROLL CALL
Meter: Irregular meter
Words and Music by James M. Black, 1856–1938
James M. Black was an active Methodist layman, a music teacher, and a composer and publisher of numerous gospel songs. He related this experience:
While a teacher in the Sunday school and president of a young people’s society, I one day met a girl, 14 years old, poorly clad and a child of a drunkard. She accepted my invitation to attend the Sunday school and join 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. When I reached my home, my wife saw that I was deeply troubled. Then the words in 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 hymnbooks.
The subsequent death of the missing girl from pneumonia, after an illness of just ten days, furnished the dramatic finale to this account and gives a poignancy to the “roll call” song, first published in 1894.