Sometime We'll Understand

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century Maxwell N. Cornelius was born and brought up on a farm in Pennsylvania. When he came of age, he left farming and learned the trade of a brick-mason. Later he became a contractor in Pittsburg. In erecting a house in that city his leg was broken. Bone-setting in that day was very crude and prophylaxis almost unknown, and the broken leg became infected. The physicians decided that it must be amputated, and that there was little time to wait. In fact, they gave him a week in which to get ready for the ordeal.
When the day arrived young Cornelius said he was ready, but asked for his violin that he might play one more tune—perhaps the last one he would ever play. Whatever the tune was, the melody was so sweet that it caused even the physicians to shed tears. He stood the operation well and, to their surprise, came out safely, but was maimed for life.
The young man now decided to go to college and get an education. After passing through college with honors, he felt the Lord's guidance to become a minister of the gospel. His first charge was at Altoona, Pennsylvania; but on account of his wife's health he soon moved to California. Locating at Pasadena, he was instrumental in building a large church in that place; but many who had subscribed to help to pay for the building failed in business, and Mr. Cornelius was left to meet the obligations as best he could.
In a few years the church was cleared from all debt; but shortly afterward, his invalid wife died, and the bereaved pastor preached the funeral sermon himself. At the conclusion he quoted the words of a poem which he had composed shortly before. Both the poem and the sermon were printed in a Western newspaper, where Major Whipple, a contemporary of Ira Sankey's, found them. Impressed by the sentiment and beauty of the words, he cut them out and carried them in his Bible for three months before he wrote a chorus to finish out a hymn for the poetry.
"Then trust in God through all thy days;
Fear not! for He doth hold thy hand;
Though dark thy way, still sing and praise;
Sometime, sometime we'll understand."
Soon afterward he handed the words to his friend, James McGranahan, who composed the tune to which the hymn is now sung to the comfort and encouragement of thousands of sorrowing and tried Christians.
"Not now, but in the coming years—
It may be in the better land—
We'll learn the meaning of our tears,
And then, sometime, we'll understand."