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The Inspiration Behind Alan Jackson’s “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”


How does it make you feel when the Lord calls upon each one of us, and you found out that some of the people you love were not mentioned? Does it bother you that some names may not be called when Jesus returns? This thought haunted the man behind the song “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder,” written by James Milton Black.

The Inspiration Behind “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”

Black was a Sunday school teacher and hymnal composer. The song was born from an experience he encountered in his life. He met a young girl and invited her to join his Sunday classes. One day when he was doing a roll call, the girl was absent. He was worried about what had happened to her. So he went to the girl’s house and found out that she was sick.

Thinking about the girl who was not in his class made Black thought what if God is calling us and one of us is not present. This thought troubled him that he went home and search for a song related to this topic. Sadly, he couldn’t find one, and that is when he decided to write something about it.

Aside from the girl being Black’s inspiration, he was also inspired by the Book of Life. This is a book known to contain the names of all the people who are destined to enter the gates of Heaven.

Different Versions

This hymn became incredibly popular that it has been translated into different languages, and covered by numerous artists such as Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and many more.

Alan Jackson’s Album

Alan Jackson released his first gospel album Precious Memories. The album entered the top of the Country and Christian chart. It featured fifteen gospel songs that are known by many. Since it was a hit, Jackson decided to make a part two album. Therefore, he released his album Precious Memories Volume II in 2013. He included his cover of the song “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.”

Jackson maintained the original tune of the song and made it purely magical. His rendition sounds nostalgic, making you bring back the memories of your childhood as you listen to the choir sing on a Sunday morning service.

Chart Performance

Precious Memories Volume II also reached the top of the Christian chart. In addition, it secured a spot on the country album and Billboard 200 chart.

You can listen to Alan Jackson’s version of “When The Roll is Called Up Yonder” below.

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