Some songbooks may credit this song to E. J. & J. or “Elsie, Jack & Jim” which are Jim Miller, Jack Osborn and Elsie Osborn. It was published in Blessed Hope by Stamps-Baxter Music & Printing Company in 1942. However, the person who actually composed this song may have been Janie West Sanders Metzgar. There is a legal dispute about this matter that probably resulted from Janie West Sangers Metzgar’s refusal to copyright her hymns. Her son is working to rectify this to some degree.
Janie West Sanders Metzgar (1915-1977), Lyricist & Composer
Janie West Sanders Metzgar was born April 14, 1915 and was an orphan reared in the Buckner’s Baptist Orphanage. She and her brother were dropped off on the “west” side of the chapel at the orphanage so they gave her the name “West”. Apparently her mother died giving birth to her younger brother, Archie. Her father died from a brain injury, so the neighbors took the children to the orphanage. Archie was to go onto to be a decorated war veteran of WW2. She would later learn that her actual last name was Sanders. Her birth certificate only had the name “Janie” on it. She attended Baylor University in Waco, TX and studied both music and English. She was a school teacher of a one room schoolhouse outside of Fairfield, TX. During this period she met her future husband, William Douglas Metzgar, who was a minister for the Assemblies of God. They had five children. She was recognized for her song writing contributions, receiving awards. Her music was mostly written to piano sheet music since she knew how to play the piano. Her music was first printed by Broadman Press in Nashville, TN.
She was diagnosed with leukemia at a young age, but she wrote many hymns based upon her reliance upon God. Her life was filled with much pain; even when the leukemia was in remission she suffered from migraine headaches. She passed away on August 16, 1977, at nearly the same hour as Elvis Presley, in San Angelo, TX. She is buried in Fairfield Cemetery in Fairfield, TX. Her husband passed away in December 12, 1985.
Where the Roses Never Fade
While a member of the Streetsboro church of Christ, I came in contact with an older Christian gentleman by the name of Bill Clevenger. He so loved this song, and my love for him grew that I came to love the hymn more so because of him. Bill was legally blind. He accidentally took my overcoat out to the car with him on a snowy day. He said when he put it on and it felt a bit funny, but he went on out. After he discovered he was dragging it on the parking lot through the snow and ice, since I was much taller than Bill, he came back in and put it on the rack knowing it was not his. Only sometime later did he figure out it was my coat. We had a great laugh together with him telling the story how he dragged it across the parking lot for a ways before he figured it out.
Heaven is a beautiful place which is made for “saved ones gone to be with Jesus.” William R. Clevenger left to be with Jesus on January 23, 2006. I miss him. He was a good man who was not afraid to admit a mistake and seek to make changes in his life to be more pleasing to Jesus Christ. His prayers were memorable and no one questioned whether or not these were fervent. Bill was willing to make changes in his life or viewpoints, and not very many men are willing to do that. He was a decorated war veteran of WW2 serving under George S. Patton in the U. S. Army. Because of his spiritual courage and encouragement he gave to me, I decided to use this song for the TV program that I do, Light From Above.
Are you ready for that city? It is a prepared place for a prepared people!
John P. Wiegand, Editor, Praise for the Lord, Nashville, TN: Praise Press, 1997.
V. E. Howard, Editor, and Broadus E. Smith, Associate Editor, Church Gospel Songs & Hymns, Texarkana, TX: Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.