The Writing Life: What Makes Me A Southern Writer (Part 3 of 5)

One of my favorite hymns from my youth and through today, which reveals my very Southern nature is: “What A Day That Will Be.” You don’t need a PhD in Sociology or Psychology to see the meaning of the hymn right away: life is filled with pain and sorrow. Only in the hereafter will it not be that way. I think this hymn very much characterizes how Southerners have viewed both life and themselves. And, I can say with heartfelt honesty, that given my many personal tragedies in life, it is my vision of life as well.

There is coming a day when no heartaches shall come
No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye.
All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Chorus

What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there;
And forever I will be with the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

I can barely listen to this hymn or even read the words without coming to tears. My youth seems filled with a overabundance of sorrow. By the time I was 14 I had been a pallbearer four times. Having lost many cousins and uncles and aunts and parents and grandparents by the time I was 16, I so often think of the words “…no more parting over there.” I have parted from so many. The thought I will part from many, many more before my journey is done is almost unbearable. As I write this, on September 22, I leaned yesterday that a person close to me has just been diagnosed with cancer. The physicians caught it early. The prognosis is excellent. But I default to the worst outcome – the death of someone I love. And that would be devastating to me beyond words. A sense of elegy? For me as a Southern writer, that sense has molded my character. And it sucks.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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