Mr. Bennett, the author of this world-famed hymn, has this to say about its origin:
“In 1861 I became a resident of the village of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, the home of the composer, J. P. Webster; and shortly after became associated with him in the production of sheet music (songs) and other musical works. In the summer or fall of the year 1867 we commenced work on ' The Signet Ring.' One of the songs written for that book was ' Sweet Byand-By. ”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 in one of his melancholy moods, and I found that I could rouse him from them by giving him a new song or hymn to work on. On such an occasion he came into my place of business, walked down to the stove, and turned his back to me without speaking. I was at my desk writing. Presently I said:
“'It is no matter,' he replied;' it will be all right by and by!'
“The idea of the hymn came to me like a flash of sunlight, and I replied:' The sweet by and by! Would that not make a good hymn?'
“'Maybe it would,' said he indifferently.
“Next year the publishers of ' The Signet Ring' heralded its advent by distributing a large number of circulars upon which selections from the work were printed, among them ' Sweet By-and-By.' These circulars first brought the hymn to the notice of the public, and created the principal demand for the book. Toward the close of that year the hymn was published in sheet-music form. It is now in numerous collections of vocal music in America, and, as a newspaper account says, ' It is translated into various foreign languages and sung in every land under the sun.'
“Webster, Crosby and Carswell are dead. S. E. Bright, of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and myself are the only remaining living witnesses to the birth of ' Sweet By-and-By.'"