The “We Shall See Jesus” Effect

In the Cathedrals classic “We Shall See Jesus,” three verses built into a magnificent final chorus. When the final line of the chorus comes—”We shall see Jesus just as He is!”—the song ends. The Cathedrals, I am told, never once encored the song.

Herein lies a nugget of wisdom. Sometimes, when the payoff line comes, repeating the chorus does not magnify its impact. Sometimes less is more.

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36 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Great point. It would have been anti-climatic after that. In fact, most encores are that way. Unless you hold back and give more or do it differently, encores aren’t so great.

    There are times they work Hoppers on “Shouting Time” on the Gaither Homecoming. That was aided by the fact that J.D. did a glissando on one and Mark Lowry and others joined in. The Crabbs on “Through the Fire” on the Gaither Homecoming video was good too. The Oaks on “King Jesus” was good. They slowed it down on the second solo before building and the third time they kicked it. They were also aided by having a live band who could change up the licks. Gold City doing the high tenor / low bass ending on “When He Calls I’ll Fly Away”, “When He Blessed My Soul”, etc. are examples too of doing encores right.

    • Oh, make no mistake, I agree that encores have their place! They more often have a place in the up-tempo convention-style barn-burners, I think – take, for example, the Kingdom Heirs’ encore of “What We Needed,” where Billy Hodges would go through the roof, Jeff Chapman would rattle the basement, and Arthur Rice would hold out a note forever. That added something that the first time through didn’t add. 🙂

      I think it’s encores on big ballads, especially, that are often too much of a good thing.

      Yes, some ballads can be encored to good effect, and yes, sometimes uptempo songs shouldn’t be. But I think we hit what I’m talking about in the original post more often with the big ballads.

  2. There’s nothing wrong with an encore. Some songs lend themselves to an encore. But it’s a tool that has become overused.

    A quartet veteran once told me, “never encore a big ballad”, and I have found that’s a pretty good general rule. Encoring a really great, powerful song can lessen the message.

    • That’s exactly what I was trying to say, and said as well as I did or better! Totally agreed.

    • The one exception that I think can work is if, in the emotional moments after the ballad has ended, to sing through a chorus softly, either a cappella or with just piano. I’m specifically thinking of “The Judgment” on King’s Gold 2. But I can definitely hear it working on a song like “We Shall See Jesus”. Even have the crowd sing along.

      • There are some songs and some situations where that would be effective, and others where it wouldn’t.

  3. Never encore a big ballad!

    • Somehow I suspect that we just have heard from the quartet veteran whom Trevor Haley quoted above! 😀

      • 😀

      • My memory is foggy, but I seem to remember hearing that particular bit of advice from another experienced veteran, that’s no longer on the scene.

        That being said, Ben was, and still is, a fountain of good musical/technical advice. I learned to listen to him, because he usually wound up being right.

        And also, I was raised to respect my elders!

      • Ah! 🙂

    • Except for the Perry’s encoring “Did I Mention?” Now that is a song that can really grab the heart (and soul) as it is repeated!

      • As I recall, the Perry’s encore “Did I Mention” with an a cappella version. I would also say that “Did I Mention” would not qualify as a “big” ballad in the same way as “We Shall See Jesus”….

      • Very true…not the same kind of song at all!

  4. Good blog post Daniel. I agree, there is a time and a place for encores. While watching some Gaither videos recently this exact thing got on my nerves. Many times a great song was sung, then, almost out of obligation, they started singing it again. It got really old. Wisdom is knowing when to stop singing! 🙂

    • Yes. That’s why I call it the “We Shall See Jesus” effect – there is a song which simply would not have had the same effect if they sang the chorus three times. It’s one of the most marked examples, but it’s far from the only one!

      • I have heard a local group sing the usual arrangement of “We Shall See Jesus.”

        Then, after they’ve ended the song, they explain that there’s a fourth verse that’s rarely sung. When they sing that fourth verse and come back to the chorus again, it’s pretty effective.

        Perhaps it’s not technically an “encore” since it’s adding more material that wasn’t sung the first time, but it’s presented as an encore.

        The reason this works for them is because they sing with just piano accompaniment. If the orchestrated track were used, it wouldn’t work to go back and try to match the same energy. Because they just use piano, it can be a little different the second time they hit the chorus.

      • Or…maybe I’m thinking of a different song…

  5. I agree whole heartedly with the statement in this commentary.

  6. Never encore anything. Always leave them wanting more.

  7. I like an encore on two or three songs – normally faster songs, during a concert. Some groups encore their best song(s). But I would agree with Ben, never encore a ballad…


  8. Speaking of WSSJ, the Singing Americans’ version was different (at the end anyhow). 🙂

  9. Jimmy Swaggart would encore “We Shall See Jesus”. Of course, I think Swaggart would encore the National Anthem.

  10. Legacy Fives ending of “We Shall See Jesus” is a little different. Instead of ending on “Just As He Is”, they end with the words “We Shall See Jesus”, its pretty effective in their concerts I believe…

  11. Just for the record, there is no 4th verse to “We Shall See Jesus”. But as to the group David mentioned, this COULD have happened. WAY back in the 1980s, an artist I won’t mention recorded “We Shall See Jesus” and changed every single one of my three verses. Literally re-wrote the song. I was so green at the time I asked Roger Bennett if we could sue (haha), and he said no, we couldn’t. I suppose a group could have that version and have included some of that. I hope you won’t think it was vanity that made me want to contact the artist and say, “if I’d wanted a co-writer, I’d have asked for one”. He took away the triology of the three scenes on a hillside. I always compare that to someone doing plastic surgery on one of your children without your permission, then telling you, “hey…it’s still the same kid”. I’m not talking about arranging the song – I’m talking about re-writing it. Thank goodness, that’s the only time poor Di had to live through that! 🙂

    • Wow! Yes, thank goodness that was the only time!

    • Good post, Dianne. I am not a writer, but it really bugs me when singers change the words to a song. In our religious circle, it’s normally over a theological difference, but it still bugs me.

    • I don’t think you could sue him, Diane, but maybe you could file a complaint with the officials in Louisiana because he didn’t have a butcher’s license….assuming we’re thinking of the same guy. 🙂

    • Wow. I will pass the word along to the group.

      I agree that a lawsuit would probably be more trouble than it would be worth, but I think you should have contacted the person who did that to express your displeasure.

      Writing a parody of another song for comedic purposes is one thing, but just remodeling a song without the permission of the original songwriter makes no sense. It’s even more ridiculous when you consider that it was such a terrific song in the first place.

      – – – – –

      Now, I did get permission recently from a songwriter to alter one of his songs. I assured him it’s only going to be used one time for a September 11 church service. If anyone wants to hear it, they’ll need to be at my church that day for the morning service! I’d never consider doing that without the blessing of the songwriter.

    • Dianne,
      I should add that the group I mentioned did not alter the original at all. They follow the Cathedrals arrangement and end it.

      Then, once the song is finished, they ask the crowd if they’d like to hear another verse or something along those lines. They sing a unique fourth verse and finish with the chorus.

      It wouldn’t be as offensive to you as a songwriter, I don’t think, as someone entirely destroying everything that made your song so successful!

  12. I’ve heard people add a third verse to “Then Came The Morning” (talked about the Second Coming and changed the chorus to “Here Comes The Morning”). I don’t think the Gaithers had anything to do with that because the lyrics weren’t professional quality or at least not up to Gloria’s usual standards.

    • Clarence, that might be a true verse. I believe my pastor had a songbook with that verse in it.

  13. Quartet Man, it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the song. The first verse is the disciples’ point of view, the second is Mary’s. The third talks about prophecies fufilling and Christ returning. It goes against the whole theme. Very unGaitherlike.

    I found the lyrics online here:

    It lists the Gaithers, Chris Christian, and “unknown” as the writers. Don’t know how accurate the site is.

    • I could go either way on it. The Gaithers occasionally did somethings that “didn’t work.”

      On the other hand, if the verse had “shackles” in it, we could be fairly sure Gloria had written it! jk

      • “some things”

    • ASCAP has the song listed by Bill & Gloria Gaither and Christian Smith.

      The “By Unknown” part of that website is referring to the artist in the linked song sample. The rest of the site has links to recorded songs in .ram; some of them don’t even have the songwriters listed, but almost all list where the song came from if the website owner knows it.

      Not that that is highly important information; but I’ve visited this site quite a few times.