Henri Abraham César Malan was a prolific composer of hymns in the early 19th century, as well as an ardent evangelist who traveled throughout the European continent preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though few of his hymns have been translated and popularized in English, his impact on the French and Swiss churches of his era has been compared to that of Isaac Watts in England a generation earlier.
He composed the lyrics to the hymn “Non, ce n’est pas mourir que d’aller vers son Dieu” in 1832, which was translated into English by George Bethune. It remained relatively obscure until it was updated in 2008 by Bob Kauflin, revising the lyrics (including the addition of a chorus) and wrote a beautiful new melody for the hymn.
As we read through the lyrics, we see that because Jesus has paid our ransom and secured our eternal salvation, death is not the end for a Christian. In Christ, we have the blessed hope of a future in which we will reign in glory (Revelation 5:10). When Christ returns, he will finally and completely destroy death (1 Corinthians 15:26), and believers from throughout history will receive resurrection bodies, free forever from pain, disease, aging, and death (Revelation 21:4).
When believers close our eyes for the final time in this life, we will open them in the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8). The apostle Paul wrote of two desires: to live a life of fruitful labor which honors and brings glory to Christ (Philippians 1:22) or to die and be with the Lord, which is even better (Philippians 1:23).
In this life there will be trials and hardships, but these things are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). Because of this hope that we possess, we have no need to fear death. The funeral of a Christian is a time of mourning for those of us left behind, but it is also a time of rejoicing for the releasing of a loved one from the weight of sin into the presence of God!
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-5:5