“When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder” isn’t just a song Alan Jackson included on his gospel album Precious Memories Volume II, it’s a cherished American hymn with a rich history dating back to 1893.

The melody and lyrics were crafted by James Milton Black, a choir director and Sunday school teacher. Inspiration struck Black during a routine attendance check in his Sunday school class. A student’s absence sparked a contemplation of the afterlife and the concept of a heavenly roll call. Black translated this contemplation into the now-famous verses, expressing a yearning to be present when that celestial record is checked.

“When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder” quickly gained popularity within the Christian community, sung in churches and revivals across the country. Its simple, heartfelt message resonated with believers, offering comfort in the promise of eternal life. The song transcended religious boundaries as well, becoming a staple at funerals and memorial services.

Despite its age, “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder” hasn’t faded into obscurity. Alan Jackson’s rendition on Precious Memories Volume II reintroduced the hymn to a new generation, showcasing its timeless message and enduring beauty. Whether sung in a traditional church setting or belted out at a country music concert, the song continues to inspire reflection and offer hope for a heavenly reward.

So, as you listen to Alan Jackson’s rendition of “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” remember that you’re experiencing a piece of American musical history, a song that has provided solace and hope for over a century.