Carrie E. Breck (1855-1934), the author of “Face to Face,” was a Christian homemaker and mother of five daughters. It was said that she couldn’t carry a tune but had an excellent sense of rhyme and poetic rhythm. Despite her busy family life, she wrote over 2,000 poems, some of which became hymn texts. She said, “I have penciled verses under all conditions: over a mending basket, with a baby on my arm, and sometimes even sweeping or washing dishes.”
Mrs. Breck sent the poem to Grant D. Tullar, a friend, and composer of gospel hymns, hoping that he would write music for her words. He had just written a tune for a text of his own, but he wasn’t pleased with it. He discovered that “Face to Face” was a perfect fit for the music he had just written, and the hymn was published in 1899.
There is a story of a missionary couple, Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Porteous, who served in China when they were taken captive by a gang of terrorists to be executed. As the executioner took his long knife from his shoulder, they began to sing “Face to face with Christ my Saviour.” The executioner immediately shouldered the blade, and the couple was released. Their singing at the prospect of seeing their Saviour face to face as they were facing death was told by them many times.
This hymn which so beautifully speaks of the anticipation of seeing Christ one day, face to face, has offered hope for many over the years. The limited knowledge and sight believers have while on this earth will be replaced by complete knowledge and vision. As Paul wrote: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Face to face–what will it be?
When with rapture I behold him,
Jesus Christ who died for me.
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all his glory,
I shall see him by and by!
With the darkling veil between,
But a blessed day is coming,
When his glory shall be seen.
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened,
And the dark things shall be plain.
Face to face–to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loves me so.
All rights reserved. Without the express written permission of the publisher, this publication may not be reproduced or transmitted, whether in whole or in part, in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, storage retrieval system, recording, or any other.