When the Trumpet Sounds

When the Trumpet Sounds

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep,
but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling
of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed”
– 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 –

The trumpet is a musical wind instrument made of metal. It is as ancient as the flute, and both are derived from the cattle horn. The trumpet was used to transmit signals – for the hunt, for religious services, and for burials and interments. The Bible refers to the use of the trumpet in battles, to sound the alarm in the times of war or danger, and as a sign of the end times.

Paul says that, in an instant, at the sound of the trumper, the dead in Christ will rise with an immortal body. The sound of the trumpet will be to announce the danger of war, the pain of saying goodbye and of death; the powerful sound will announce the joy of a return and of life restored. Some, like Elijah, will be transformed and translated without seeing death. Others like Moses will be resurrected. And both, the Elijahs and the Moseses, will live for eternity.

James Black was taking attendance of the children in his Sunday School class in 1893. When he called Bessie, she was not there. The teacher, disappointed by the lack of attendance, wanted to make a joke. He said: “I am confident that when the roll is opened up in heaven and they take attendance, she will be there.” Then he felt moved to sing a song on the topic but could not find one.

When he went back home, Black sat down at his piano and began to compose. Tears filled his eyes while he sang the song. This hymn is called “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” and quickly became a classic for all churches.

It has been translated into more than fourteen languages and used in award-winning films. It has even been sung by presidents and prime ministers, like Winston Churchill, and many artists around the world.

This is what the original first verse says:

“When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright, and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder,
I’ll be there.
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
I’ll be there.”

May it be that as the roll is called up yonder, we’ll all be there…