Driving home last night I saw the most beautiful sunset. The sun looked like a giant orange ball in the sky. It inspired me to sing a song I learned as a child: Beyond the Sunset. One of our early church members, Maxine Strickland, had met Virgil and Blanche Brock, the composers of the song. Virgil was, in fact, an ordained minister in the Christian Church, serving churches in Indiana and Florida. The story behind the song was told to Lindsay Terry by Virgil Brock himself.
Mr. Terry, a long-time music director, wrote about his visit with Virgil Brock in his column for the St. Augustine Record (Florida) in October of 2015. I’d like to share his words from that newspaper column:
A number of years ago, while serving as Music and Education Director of the Buffalo Avenue Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida, I had an unexpected visit from Brock. I was thrilled, to say the least, and quickly took him into the church’s radio studio and recorded his story - the story of how “Beyond the Sunset” was born. I still have the tape of that recording session.
Brock began, “We were watching a sunset over Winona Lake, in Indiana, one evening. With us were two friends, Horace and Grace Burr. Horace had been blind for many years. We went to the dinner table still talking about that impressive sunset. The lake seemed to be ablaze with the glory of God. But above that unusual sunset were threatening storm clouds.”
“As we talked about that sunset Horace said, ‘I never saw a more beautiful sunset, and I’ve seen them around the world.’ I said, ‘Horace, you always talk about seeing.’ He said, ‘I do. I see through others’ eyes, and I think I see more than many others see. I can see beyond the sunset.′ I said, ’Horace, that’s a great idea for a song, and I began singing: Beyond the sunset, 0 blissful morning, when with our savior heaven is begun.”
“Grace Burr spoke up excitedly and said, ‘Blanche, that’s a beautiful thought! Go and play it.’ My wife went to a piano nearby and began to play. We stopped eating and listened as she created the entire musical theme. I was too excited to eat. I found an old envelope in my pocket and laid it by my plate. I soon had written the first verse.”
“Beyond the sunset, 0 blissful morning,
When with our savior heaven is begun.
Earth’s toiling ended, 0 glorious dawning,
Beyond the sunset, when day is done.”
Virgil continued his story. “Remembering those threatening storm clouds gave rise to the second verse.”
“Beyond the sunset no clouds will gather, No storms will threaten, no fears annoy; O day of gladness, O day unending, Beyond the sunset, eternal joy!”
Then Virgil said, “Horace, we ought to have a verse of this song for you and Grace. She has guided you about in your blindness for so many years, with her hand on yours. How would this do?”
“Beyond the sunset a hand will guide me
To God, the Father, whom I adore;
His glorious presence, His words of welcome,
Will be my portion on that fair shore.”
The song was then complete and began its journey around the world.
https://www.staugustine.com/article/20151015/lifestyle/310159978; Story behind the song: 'Beyond the Sunset' - Lifestyle - The St. Augustine Record - St. Augustine, FL
The psalmist wrote a song as recorded in Psalm 113:3
“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”
May every rising and setting of the sun be a simple reminder to us every day to count our blessings and praise the name of the Lord until that day when we are before His glorious presence beyond the sunset.