Credit : Nat Grube

On the 8th of June every year, the Norfolk Island people celebrate their arrival from Pitcairn Island in 1856. This very special event is known as Bounty Day or Anniversary Day. As a proud people with our own language and customs, we joyously march from Kingston Pier to the cemetery, singing, laughing, and paying respects to our ancestors. The day culminates in a large community picnic.

This year (2020) , due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bounty Day will be a more quiet affair, and many islanders were unable to make it home for the celebration. Also, many islanders live abroad, and can only dream wistfully of meeting friends and family at Kingston Pier and being part of the festivities. This community rendition of ‘In the Sweet By and By’, one of our beloved hymns, aims to forge a sense of togetherness, despite the isolation from home and the happenings of the world. Enjoy! Nat Grube.

“The Sweet By-and-By” is a Christian hymn with lyrics by S. Fillmore Bennett and music by Joseph P. Webster. This hymn, very popular in the nineteenth century, became a Gospel standard and has been included in hymnals ever since. Additionally, this hymn has been performed by renowned performing artists in the 20th and 21st century.

1. There’s a land that is fairer than day,

and by faith we can see it afar;

for the Father waits over the way

to prepare us a dwelling place there.


In the sweet by and by,

we shall meet on that beautiful shore.

In the sweet by and by,

we shall meet on that beautiful shore.

2. We shall sing on that beautiful shore

the melodious songs of the blest;

and our spirits shall sorrow no more,

not a sigh for the blessing of rest. [Refrain]

3. To our bountiful Father above

we will offer our tribute of praise

for the glorious gift of his love

and the blessings that hallow our days. [Refrain]

Songwriter: Fillmore Bennett

Published by: Public Domain

Film Editor : Natalie Grube

Backing Music : Pendo Bob Pendleton

Scenic Footage : Rob Ryan, Zach Sanders, Rob Nisbet


Q What is the story behind - In the Sweet Bye & Bye

Sanford Fillmore Bennett was born in New York, 21 June 1836.  In 1864 enrolled in the Wisconsin Volunteers and served as Second Lieutenant. Following the war, he returned to Elkhorn and started a drug store and began the study of medicine. He graduated from Rush Medical College in 1874.

Bennett described the composition of the hymn in his autobiography.

Mr. Webster, like many musicians, was of an exceedingly nervous and sensitive nature, and subject to periods of depression, in which he looked upon the dark side of all things in life. I had learned his peculiarities so well that on meeting him I could tell at a glance if he was melancholy and had found that I could rouse him up by giving him a new song to work on.

He came into my place of business [in Elkhorn, Wisconsin], walked down to the stove, and turned his back on me without speaking. I was at my desk. Turning to him, I said, “Webster, what is the matter now?” “It’s no matter,” he replied, “it will be all right by and by.” The idea of the hymn came me like a flash of sunlight, and I replied, “The Sweet By and By! Why would not that make a good hymn?” “Maybe it would,” he said indifferently. Turning to my desk I penned the words of the hymn as fast as I could write. I handed the words to Webster. As he read his eyes kindled, and stepping to the desk he began writing the notes. Taking his violin, he played the melody and then jotted down the notes of the chorus. It was not over thirty minutes from the time I took my pen to write the words before two friends with Webster and myself were singing the hymn. - Sanford Fillmore Bennett (1836-1898)

The hymn, very popular in the nineteenth century, became a Gospel standard and has been included in hymnals ever since. In the New Orleans jazz tradition 'Sweet By-and-By' is a standard hymn played in so-called "jazz funerals". The American composer Charles Ives quoted the hymn in several works, most prominently in the finale of his Orchestral Set No. 2, written between 1915 and 1919. Translations of the lyrics are in a number of world languages.

'Sweet By-and-By' continues to be commonly performed. Memorable recordings over the years have been done by Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn and Kenny Rogers