Sacred Music Sunday: When the Roll Is Called up Yonder

The Second Coming of Christ stained glass window – Cadetgray / CC BY-SA (

When I joined the church in the mid-1990s, there seemed to be an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) consensus that the Second Coming was right around the corner. We were living in the last days, and surely the world would come to an end soon. I wondered if I would grow old. Y2K came and went. 9/11 happened, and we were still here. And then after a few years, everyone seemed to come to a collective agreement to relax about it a little bit.

When I was on my mission in 2003, a general authority came to speak at a zone conference. I don’t remember the rest of his talk, but I do remember one part where he started talking about the last days and the Second Coming. He said, “Elders and Sisters, give me a show of hands. How many of you think that the Second Coming could happen tomorrow?” I looked around the room. My hand was the only one that didn’t go up – I knew that not all of the scriptural prophecies had been fulfilled yet. He continued and said, “How long does a 3 1/2 year war take?” There was a mumbling in the room as the hands went down.

I personally think that the Second Coming won’t be for another 4 billion years or so – I think the end of the world will be the literal end of the world, and that’s about how much more time our solar system has. But the scriptures also say that no one knows when, so I remain open to being wrong on that point.

I’ve seen an uptick in apocalyptic rhetoric lately. It’s understandable – a global pandemic, an unprecedented recession, civil unrest, dust clouds, locusts, etc. It sure looks like we’re reading straight out of the book of Revelation sometimes. It’s gotten me thinking. Every day is someone’s Second Coming. Rather than focusing on meeting Jesus with Him coming in clouds of glory to fix the world, we should be focusing on meeting Jesus at the end of our mortal journey. If we live well, it won’t matter whether He returns during our lifetimes, because we’ll meet Him either way.

One song that I really like that gets at this point is When the Roll Is Called up Yonder. It’s catchy and celebratory, focusing on the day of resurrection. “Then when all of life is over and our work on Earth is done, and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”


Trudy is a lawyer living in the southwestern US. She has two cats who allow her to live in their house in exchange for a steady supply of food and treats.

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4 Responses

  1. EmilyCC says:

    I don’t always remember to post, but I love your 4th Sunday hymn posts. They make my Sabbath every time.

  2. Caroline says:

    When I was young I used to worry about the 2nd coming, not wanting the world to burn up and so many of my friends (and maybe myself) too. It wasn’t a happy thought. I’m glad the emphasis on the apocalypse has waned in the last decade (though I guess I’m not surprised that the idea is cropping up more these last few months.) I think you’re right that we’re all better off not worrying about the world ending and instead worrying about being good kind humans.

    I haven’t heard this song before — it is upbeat and fun. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Em says:

    I figure if 1348 wasn’t the end then 2020 isn’t either. Bad as corona virus is, we’re nowhere near bubonic levels of decimation. We’re not in the 100 years war. 2020 is a very very bad year. But it is still far short of other really bad years in human history. What about 1492? Pushing out the Moors and following it up with persecution o of Jews and Muslims AND the rape and suffering in the New World?! So no. A terrible calamity is not the same thing as the end of the world.

    Which has not stopped me from listening to REM.

  4. Em says:

    Also I enjoyed the song

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