NOTICE: Store prices and specials on the Banner of Truth UK site are not available for orders shipped to North America. Please use the Banner of Truth USA site .

Section navigation

Celestial Roller Skating

Category Articles
Date September 29, 2005

When all my labors and trials are o’er,
And I am safe on that beautiful shore,
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore
Will through the ages by glory for me.

When by the gift of His infinite grace,
I am afforded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face
Will through the ages be glory for me.

Friends will be there I have loved long ago,
Joy like a river around me will flow,
Yet, must a smile from my Savior, I know
Will through the ages be glory for me.

O that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me,
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.

Seated recently in a congregation that was asked to sing this song (to the tune that its author, Charles Gabriel, composed), I found myself wondering, “If this song is true, what will heaven be like?”

Unbidden, there arose in my mind an image of a roller-skating rink paved with gold. Around this golden circle the faithful swayed from foot to foot as a steam calliope hooted out Gabriel’s jingle: LEFT will be there I have RIGHT long ago, LEFT like a river a-RIGHT me will flow…. Each skater wore golden sleigh-bells that he jiggled and jangled for emphasis while singing the chorus: “Oh that will be (tinkle) glory for me (tinkle) glory for me (tinkle) glory for me (tinkle). Over the whole scene glinted the mirrored facets of a rotating crystal ball.

For a time I thought that the image did not seem fair. My rational self insisted that Gabriel was trying to express an important point, namely, that in eternity, the presence of Christ will be the greatest glory. Try as I might, however, I could not persuade myself that Gabriel had said as much. Swaying music and clinking rhymes simply cannot communicate the message that we might charitably suppose was in Gabriel’s heart when he wrote the song.

And that is a charitable assumption, not supported by the lyrics themselves. While Gabriel is ostensibly writing about the presence of Christ being the greatest glory of eternity, he constantly distracts himself and us from that point. What really matters in the song is the singer’s safety on the beautiful shore, the place he has been accorded, and the friends he meets. Even when Gabriel attempts to shift the focus to the Savior, he makes it clear that that will be “glory for me, glory for me, glory for meeeee.”

The Lord will indeed be the glory of the New Jerusalem. That is a theme worth expressing, and it should wring tears from our hearts. Charles Gabriel leads us to smile at heaven. Much better that we should weep: weep for joy, weep for anticipation, weep for sheer homesickness.

Anne Ross Cousin comes closer to the truth:

The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face,
I will not gaze at glory but on my King of Grace,
Not at the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand,
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.

Now that’s a heaven worth waiting up for.

Latest Articles

Gripping, Relevant, and Insightful – The Banner Magazine 24 September 2020

In the video below, Geoff Thomas explains how he was first introduced to the ministry of the Banner of Truth through a gift from a friend. That friend gave him a copy of the Banner Magazine, which in turn led to Geoff’s introduction to Banner books. Geoff eventually became a pastor in Wales and for a time he was an editor of […]

Public Worship Is To Be Preferred Over Private 28 August 2020

How would you answer these questions: How can we most glorify God on the earth? How can we experience most of his presence? How can we see him most clearly revealed? How can we get the maximum possible spiritual benefits from the Lord? How can we do the most good to our fellow believers? What […]