Hymn History: “What If It Were Today?”

2 min

The time of Christ’s return is a mystery. Only God knows the day and hour of Christ’s return. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Since Christ’s ascension, believers throughout the ages have eagerly anticipated His imminent return. Not knowing when He will return motivates us to prepare and be ready as were the wise virgins in Matthew 25:1–13. At the exact time appointed by the Father, Jesus will descend through the clouds with the great sound of a trumpet to gather believers unto Himself! (See I Thessalonians 4:16–17.)

Perhaps these Scripture passages inspired Leila Morris as she wrote “What If It Were Today?” Many of her hymns urged people to consider Christ and draw near to Him. Obviously, she was eagerly awaiting Christ’s Second Coming!

Faithful and true would He find us here
If He should come today?
Watching in gladness and not in fear,
If He should come today?
Signs of His coming multiply,
Morning light breaks in eastern sky,
Watch, for the time is drawing nigh,
What if it were today?

Mrs. Morris was born Leila Naylor on April 15, 1862, in Ohio. Following her father’s death, her mother and a sister managed a hat shop where she also worked. In 1881, she married Charles H. Morris. Mrs. Morris had been actively involved in her church as a girl. After her marriage, she continued to be very active in church ministry. Many summer days were spent attending camp meetings. In the 1890s, she began writing songs. At one camp meeting, Mrs. Morris met Dr. H. L. Gilmour, an editor and composer. He encouraged her to use her musical talents for God.

Mrs. Morris eventually wrote more than 1,000 hymns, including “Let Jesus Come into Your Heart,” “Nearer, Still Nearer,” and “Sweeter as the Years Go By.” In 1913, when her eyesight began failing, her son created a way for his mother to continue to write hymns. On a wall in her home, he built a massive blackboard with a musical staff on it. The giant blackboard enabled his mother to see larger notes so she could continue writing music. Mrs. Morris used this helpful tool until she became
totally blind. Then, dedicated friends assisted her in her writing. She spent her last days living with her daughter and passed away in July 1929.

What if Jesus returned today? Would you be ready, doing His will, and eager to greet Him? Don’t put off until tomorrow what you know He wants to be done today. Be ready and prepared to receive Jesus when He comes!

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