The International Gospel Hour was started by V. E. Howard, and “I Am Bound for the Promised Land” was the standard opening for the radio program at least since 1964 according to Chuck Richardson who has served in Technical Support for the program since 1980. V. E. Howard was the featured speaker on the program he started from 1934 to 1995. Winford Claiborne, who succeeded Howard and was the Speaker from 1995 to 2014, once commented about this when he took over the program that he saw no reason to change the opening song for one of the longest running religious radio programs. This hymn was the favorite of the esteemed Foy E. Wallace, Jr. which was led at his funeral along with his wife’s funeral by their longtime friend, Nobel Patterson. The song should not be confused with another version of the song with music and chorus written by Tullius C. O’Kane rather than McIntosh.
Samuel Stennett (1727-1795), Lyricist
Samuel Stennett was born on June 1, 1727 in Exeter, England. He comes from a line of Seventh Day Baptist ministers. In fact, Stennett’s grandfather was also a hymn writer. His father moved the family to London where he preached. Eventually, Samuel would succeed his father in the ministry there in 1758. In 1763, King’s College of Aberdeen awarded Samuel Stennett a Doctorate of Divinity. He was a close personal friend of King George III, but he still refused to join the Church of England when invited to do so.
There are over 80 hymns credited to Samuel Stennett; however, according to Hymnary.org, this set of lyrics was by far his most popular. Some sources state he had 39 hymns and these appeared in a Baptist hymnal called “Rippon’s Selections in 1787. Stennett wrote the verses for this song in 1787.
Stennett was married to Elizabeth Marsom (1723-1795) who was a daughter of another Baptist minister. They had two children, a boy, Joseph IV, (Samuel Stennett’s brother’s name was Joseph) and girl named Elizabeth. Earlier they had a son named Haley, who died in 1757. Samuel Stennett died on August 24, 1795 in London, England. His wife had died earlier on March 16, 1795. Both of them were buried in the family vault in Bunhill Fields Burial Ground in London.
Rigdon McCoy McIntosh (1836-1899), Lyricist & Arranger
He was born April 3, 1836 in Tennessee. He studied music at Jackson College in Columbia, TN under the training of Asa Errett. He taught English and Mathematics at Triam Alabama High School before he headed the music department at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN in 1875. The lack of students made him leave for Emory College in Oxford, GA in 1877. He also served as music editor for the Methodist Episcopal Church South Publishing Company before establishing his own R. M. McIntosh Publishing Company. He edited and published hymnals from both organizations. He also wrote under a pseudonym of Emilius Laroche.
At the suggestion of C. C. Cline, he also worked with David Lipscomb to produce Christian Hymns in 1889 which both E. G. Sewell and McIntosh are listed as Editors for the hymnbook published by Gospel Advocate. One source estimates that McIntosh’s prior publishing work makes up about 80 percent of this hymnal most likely due to the challenges of copyright law in publishing. The same source states that 25 percent of the hymns could be traced to McIntosh’s musical arrangement. For the hymn “I Am Bound For The Promised Land”, McIntosh provided the words for the chorus and arranged the music based on William Walker’s Southern Harmony of 1835.
His wife’s name was Sallie McClasson. They had two children, Loulie Everett and Nannie. McIntosh died July 2, 1899 in Atlanta, GA, and he is buried in Oxford Historical Cemetery in Oxford, GA.
I Am Bound for the Promised Land
The expression “Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” is certainly true. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (Hebrews 4:1-2, NKJV.) Sadly, many overlook the very real possibility of coming up short!
John P. Wiegand, Editor, Praise for the Lord, Nashville, TN: Praise Press, 1997.
Nobel Patterson and Terry Gardner, Editors, Foy E. Wallace, Jr. -- Soldier of the Cross, Fort Worth: Wallace Memorial Fund, 1999.
V. E. Howard, Editor, Church Gospel Songs & Hymns, Texarkana, TX: Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
William Jones, The Works of Samuel Stennett, London, England: Thomas Tegg, Three Volumes, 1824.