Some people are born with a sunny disposition. They smile and laugh and spread joy wherever they go. Then there are guys like Joseph. Today, we would recognize the signs of depression in him. But in Wisconsin, in 1868, he was seen as being “melancholy.”
Joseph’s friend, Fillmore, was an editor and a song writer. Whenever he saw his friend in a mood he would set him to helping him with a new song. Joseph was a musician and he played the violin.
One cold day, Joseph entered Fillmore’s office and his friend immediately knew he was bothered. So, he asked what was wrong. Joseph answered, “Its no matter. It will be alright by and by”.
The phrase stuck with Fillmore. He let it bounce around for a bit and thought it might have the makings of a good hymn. He mentioned it to Joseph and they came up with the phrase, “In the sweet by and by.”
Joseph went to get his violin and Fillmore scrambled to write a few verses. He described the whole process in his autobiography as, “writing as fast as I could write.”
In no more than 30 minutes, they had written the lyrics and the score to one of the greatest hymns you or I have ever sung. It has become so popular that it is often parodied in movies, literature and music.
In addition to being included in nearly every church hymnal, it is often played at military funerals and it has also become a standard in the world of jazz. It is the now classic hymn of Joseph Webster and S. Fillmore Bennett: IN THE SWEET BY AND BY