May God Be With You
Have you ever attended a church that ended its service with a song? Maybe the congregation. The hymn lyrics "God be with you till we meet again; by his counsels guide uphold you" was a hymn written for this very purpose. Jeremiah Rankin, while pastoring in Washington D.C., wrote the hymn in 1882 to be a goodbye at the end of the services to encourage and motivate the believer. He wanted the people to have a way to part and go into the world resolved. Little did he know that these words would go with believers over the years as they left their congregations and went into the mission field.
Rankin said of his hymn, "I attributed its popularity in no little part to the music to which it was set. It was a wedding of words and music, at which it was my function to preside; but Mr. Tomer should have his full share of the family honor" (162). Mr. Tomer served as a music director when he composed the song. Rankin was not going to take full credit for the song. He saw it as a way to support the fellowship and discipleship in his church, not to boost his own ego. Tomer was a school teacher and previously a Civil War soldier when they wrote the words, "God be with you." Both he and Rankin truly understood what it meant for God to be with you.
The words to this hymn have continued to encourage believers throughout the years. The words to this hymn have been used on postcards to encourage soldiers ("The History and Lyrics to 'God be With You Till We Meet Again'").
There are many hymns that have been written over the years to help close out a service and encourage the congregation. "God be With You Till We Meet Again," surely stands as one of the great compositions that serves this noble purpose.