Brother Robert Roberts wrote “The Final Consolation” as part of the fourth of his “Letters to the Elect of God in a Time of Trouble”. He describes in moving words the ultimate joy awaiting the faithful at the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have culled small portions from this delightful word picture, which have relationship to the use of music. In what other way could the myriads of saints join together to praise our Lord than to unite their hearts and voices in song with such energy that mortal nerves are incapable of standing.

Come to the land of promise in the day of its glory, not as you are now—burdened with infirmity, with a nature easily fatigued, eye soon dimmed, power soon spent, and having but scant capacity to rise to the surrounding sublimities of the universe, or to apprehend sympathetically the subtle glories of the Spirit. Come, when it has been said to you, as to Joshua, “Take away the filthy garments from him… I will clothe thee with a change of raiment.” Come when mortality no longer weighs you to the earth, and when you know the new experience of having “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Come when you can step lightly and joyously abroad upon the earth in the freedom and power of spirit nature; when the cup of life mantles full and sparkling to the brim; when the strong, penetrating eye looks out of a glad heart to behold in all things the unfolded love, and wisdom, and glory of God; when every thought is a joy, every movement a pleasure, every breath the inspiration of an ecstasy that can only find fit expression in praise to Him that sits upon the throne…

Forsaken and hated for ages, the land, at that time not far ahead, is now “an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.” God has fulfilled His promise, and has made “her wilderness like Eden —her desert like the garden of the Lord… ”

The country on each side is laid out in fields and estates, which are in the occupation of the Levites of the second order who serve the temple, whose lands, however, are accessible to visitors at all times…

Let us go down one of these roads, and behold the fulfilment of the promise that Yahweh would make the place of His feet glorious. All is quiet, comforting, and beautiful… There are no walls or fences at the side of the road. You may walk  straight off the side of the road on to velvet turf under the trees and among the shrubs. Here you find all kinds of fruit growing— all kinds of flowers in bloom. You are at liberty to put forth your hand and do as you will. How delicious the odour everywhere! We come upon a break in the wood where the ground descends into a gorge. We see clear out to the side of an opposite hill. A brook murmurs past where we stand. The sun streams over all. What a delicious hush! What a sense of joy in every fibre of being. We enjoy the scene for a few moments, when hark! there is a burst of music! It comes rolling towards us from the top of the opposite hill. What is it? It is a mixture of voices and instruments— stringed instruments. How beautiful! The voices so musical, so full and correct; the instruments so adapted to the voices. There must be at least 100 people. It is beautiful! It is ravishing! We stand and listen. We do not know the piece yet it seems familiar. It is a psalm of praise to God. We hear it out and then all falls quiet. We would like to make the acquaintance of the company. We direct our steps towards the top of the hill. Going along an upward leading path, we see people coming towards us. As we go forward, we approach them. They look enquiringly and smilingly at us: we look enquiringly and smilingly at them. We are not in the least embarrassed: only we were silent. Then the foremost of their company—a fresh elderly man with noble look—so majestic, yet so friendly—with such exquisite tenderness of manner, and yet such kingliness of carriage—breaks the silence. He speaks in Hebrew, but we seemed to understand it quite naturally. He says—

“You are friends, I know.”

“We are.”

“Whither hail ye from?”

“Britain.”

“Oh Britain—Tarshish—yes; the most celebrated of the isles of the Gentiles. God has made great use of her in bringing about Israel’s deliverance. We have just been indulging in a psalm on the subject.”

“Yes, we heard you; we were greatly delighted. We should like to hear it again.”

“Should you? Well there is nothing to hinder. There is an open space at the foot of this gorge where it would be convenient.”

We cannot express the indefinable pleasure we feel as we walk together down the hillside towards the spot indicated. As we walk, we say—

“Might we be so bold as to ask who your company are?”

“They are a small band of the Lord’s people, settled now in these parts, who have come out for an evening stroll. You ought to know who we are. You look as if you belonged to the Lord’s people yourselves.”

“Well in truth, we do; and we instinctively felt that you were a company of the saints—the immortal saints. Yet we felt fain not to presume on this our first visit to this most blessed realm.”

“Have you been among the dead, then, my friends?”

“No: we belong to the current generation. We were alive at the coming of the Lord.”

“Ah! you have been favoured not to see corruption.”

“We do not feel it has been a greater favour than that enjoyed by those who, by a momentary wink as it were, escaped from the vanity of human life, as it was in the Lord’s absence, into the glory revealed at his return.”

“Well, there is something to be said on that score. For one, I should not have liked to live all the days that divided my mortal life from resurrection.”

“How long might the interval have been?”

“Nigh three thousand years.”

“Whom may we have the honour of speaking to?”

The old man (looking so young in his hoary hairs) paused. Those near him who had gathered  close to us, and were eagerly enjoying our conversation, said, “Who do you think?” We looked enquiringly.

“Guess?”

“We cannot.”

“Who wrote most of the Psalms?”

We bowed with unspeakable pleasure. “King David? Oh! Happy day!” Our majestic interlocutor said,

“Even so: a morning without clouds as the Lord promised.”

Arrived at the bottom of the glade, we stood together and sang the anthem we had heard them sing on the top of the hill—David leading. Oh, such voices! Oh, such blending of liquid melodies! Oh, such fervent pouring of the soul into the meaning of the words. The delight was unutterable…

At last the Temple bursts upon our view as we round the corner of a hill on which we stand at a considerable elevation. Shortly we come upon a bridgeless stream of crystal water that comes flowing from under the house.

We enter by one of the gates and find ourselves in the first court. Here are thousands upon thousands of people who have come for the special day.

Presently a hush falls upon the assembly: then a brightness seems to break our simultaneously from all parts of it, as if hidden electric footlights had been suddenly turned on all over the building. Every face glows with light: every garment becomes lustrous and shining. It is not an oppressive brightness, but an atmosphere of subdued light and warmth that seems to diffuse a sense of unspeakable comfort and joy.

In a few moments more, the air over our heads becomes alive with light and life. A multitude of the heavenly host become visible; the brightness grows to glory: there is a quivering excitement of rapturous expectation; a sound as of trees swayed by the wind; a movement at the eastern entrance, and, lo, a dazzling figure, escorted right and left by a shining phalanx, emerges into view. Instantly, the angelic host overhead breaks into acclamation, in which the whole assembled multitude joins. It is nothing like the applause to be heard in mortal assemblies. There is all the abandon with it that is ever manifested at the most enthusiastic meeting, but there is with this, a gentle fervour and musical cadence that seems to send waves of thrilling sweetness to the remotest corner.

The Lord Jesus advances to the midst of the  assembly. All eyes are on him; his demeanour is royal, yet simple and loving. He passes, there is silence. Then he lifts his eyes and looks gravely round, not all round; and in a voice that is gentle, kind, strong and exultant all in one, in tones rich, but not strong, and yet as distinctly audible as if spoken in a small room to one person, he said, “I have been to my Father and your Father. It was needful that 1 should go away; but 1 have come again as 1 said, in the glory of my Father and his holy angels. Ye have had sorrow; but now ye rejoice, and your joy no man any more taketh from you. It is written, in the midst of my brethren will I sing praise. Now, praise our God, all ye His servants.”

Then an electric spasm of joy seems to pass through the assembly. There is a rustle, and a preparation, and a fixing of attention to Christ. He  lifts his hand, and, as if by an inspiration, the whole assembly takes the lead from him and breaks into a transport of tumultuous and glorious sound. Every energy is strained to the utmost. Mortal nerves could not stand it, but the assembly of the immortals seem to revel and gather increasing strength with every higher and higher effort of musical strain. “Blessing and honour and glory be unto him that sits upon the throne and unto the lamb for ever. Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and glory, and blessing. Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood and hast made us unto our God, kings and priests and we shall reign with thee upon the earth. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of Our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever. Amen.”