In the sweet bye and bye

“The Sweet By-and-By” is a Christian hymn with lyrics by S. Fillmore Bennett and music by Joseph P. Webster. It is recognizable by its chorus:

In the sweet by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.
In the sweet by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.[1]

Sankey described the composition of the hymn in his autobiography.

Mr. Webster, like many musicians, was of an exceedingly nervous and sensitive nature, and subject to periods of depression, in which he looked upon the dark side of all things in life. I had learned his peculiarities so well that on meeting him I could tell at a glance if he was melancholy, and had found that I could rouse him up by giving him a new song to work on.
He came into my place of business [in Elkhorn, Wisconsin], walked down to the stove, and turned his back on me without speaking. I was at my desk. Turning to him, I said, “Webster, what is the matter now?” “It’s no matter,” he replied, “it will be all right by and by.” The idea of the hymn came me like a flash of sunlight, and I replied, “The Sweet By and By! Why would not that make a good hymn?” “Maybe it would,” he said indifferently. Turning to my desk I penned the words of the hymn as fast as I could write. I handed the words to Webster. As he read his eyes kindled, and stepping to the desk he began writing the notes. Taking his violin, he played the melody and then jotted down the notes of the chorus. It was not over thirty minutes from the time I took my pen to write the words before two friends with Webster and myself were singing the hymn.—Sanford Fillmore Bennett (1836-1898)[2]

The hymn, immensely popular in the nineteenth century, became a Gospel standard and has appeared in hymnals ever since. In the New Orleans jazz tradition ‘Sweet By-and-By’ is a standard dirge played in so-called “jazz funerals”. The American composer Charles Ives quoted the hymn in several works, most notably in the finale of his Orchestral Set No. 2, written between 1915 and 1919. Translations of the text exist in a number of world languages.
“Sweet By-and-By” continues to be regularly performed. Noteworthy recordings over the years have been made by Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn.
The hymn is also heard in films, including Sergeant York (1941), Benny and Joon and Django Unchained (2012).