Music Pap

Pap’s Songs: Oh I Want to See Him

Pap tending his garden

Pap tending his garden patch

The old gospel song “Oh I Want to See Him” is one I grew up singing in church. Since it’s a peppy tune it was always one of my favorites to sing with the choir.

When I researched the song I was surprised by how old it is.

Here’s what I found from the hymnstudiesblog site:

“The text was written and the tune was composed both by Rufus Henry Cornelius, who was born on Jan. 24, 1872, in Blount County, AL. The son of Joel and Martha Cornelius, he married Macon Burleson in 1895 at Ellis County, TX, and they had seven sons. For much of his life he worked in the music publishing business and compiled the songbook Harvest of Light in 1913. His most famous hymn, “O I Want To See Him,” was first published in 1916 and was later owned by the Rodeheaver Co.”

Another site,, offers a little more insight into Cornelius.

“R.H. Cornelius, known as Rufus Cornelius by his friends, was born in Blount Co., AL., January 24, 1872. He was educated in the public schools of Oneonta, the county seat. He began teaching in the public schools at an early age and at one time was associate Principle of the Oneonta High School. It was while teaching in the high school that he became interested in church music and began to study with some of the best teachers of the time. His first major teacher was the late A J Showalter in one of his normals at Eden, AL. He continued his study with this well known teacher until he had finished the courses a second time. He soon felt that the study of harmony was his first love in his study and soon became one of the best harmony teachers of his time.

Near the close of the century, he moved to Texas and settled in Midlothian, Ellis Co., where he established a publishing house and published many fine gospel song books that sold by the thousands. However, before coming to Texas, he was associated with The Showalter-Patton Co. who published his first compositions. Soon after coming to Texas, he devoted much time to teaching singing schools (Cornelius Normal Musical Institute) and soon became one of the best known teachers of that great state, often having many more calls for schools than he could have time for. In many cases his schools were dated years ahead. He had possessed a beautiful tenor voice and was of a very pleasant personality. This caused him to be loved by all who knew him. About 1914 he was called to Southwestern Baptist Seminary as head of the music department. After several years in the Baptist School in Ft Worth, Texas, he felt he was more needed back in the field of teaching and songbook publishing. Soon after coming to Texas, he married Maycon Temperance Burleson, who was a fine singer and musician and wrote many songs. During the first 32 years of the 20th Century, this couple of musicians blessed the State of Texas with their singing and teaching. Of all the fine songs written by Mr. Cornelius, “Oh, I want to See Him” will carry his memory for years to come. The Cornelius’ were members of the Baptist Church and were devoted Christians.”

Cornelius sounds a little like Pap: he had a great love of gospel music, sung with a tenor voice, and had a good personality.

We uploaded our version of “Oh I Want to See Him” back in 2008. There’s many reasons why this is one of my favorite videos of Pap singing.

  • I love Pap’s lead singing on the verses
  • I equally love the harmony with Paul on the chorus
  • I love hearing Pap’s tapping foot, I could often hear it all through the church house when there was singing
  • I love that Pap’s rhythm fits perfectly with Paul’s flat-top picking making for a full sound, my nephew Ben was also there adding his licks to fill the song out

But most of all I love the way Pap sings the lyrics. Even though the song was written well before Pap was even born, the words fit his outlook on life perfectly. He always felt the Lord was a real friend to him, a friend who would lead him through this world of woe while giving him much to sing about along the way.

When in service for the King dark may be the night,
But I’ll cling more close to Him, He will give me light;
Satan’s snares may vex my soul, turn my thoughts aside;
But my Lord goes ahead, leads what’er betide.

Oh, I want to see Him, look upon His face,
There to sing forever of His saving grace;
On the streets of Glory let me lift my voice;
Cares all past, home at last, ever to rejoice.

As I travel through this land singing as I go,
Pointing souls to Calvary– to the crimson flow,
Many arrows pierce my soul from without, within;
But my Lord leads me on, through Him I must win.

When before me billows rise from the mighty deep,
Then my Lord directs my bark; He doth safely keep,
And He leads me gently on through this world of woe;
He’s a real friend to me, oh, I love Him so.

I hope you enjoyed the song as much as I do!


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  • Reply
    chirrl whatley
    April 11, 2022 at 7:54 pm

    such Beautiful music

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    April 11, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks for posting this song. I really enjoy hearing Pap nd Paul sing. Dennis Morgan

  • Reply
    April 11, 2022 at 3:57 pm

    I’ve never heard this hymn, but I like it because it is peppy.

  • Reply
    Gloria Hayes
    April 10, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    Beautiful song! Beautiful harmony!

    • Reply
      Patricia J. DeWeese
      April 11, 2022 at 1:36 pm

      What a precious memory as well as a comfort to KNOW he walks with our Lord Jesus! Thank you for sharing this.❤️

  • Reply
    Kimberly King
    April 10, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    Such a beautiful song. Family harmony just cannot be beat. I know these videos of your precious dad and brother are such cherished treasures. I have to say my Congratulations to you too Tipper. I saw it mentioned on your walk in the woods and got so excited I had to click on Facebook and check out what they had posted about the awards. That sure is a beautiful photo of you and the girls!! Celebrating Appalachia is hands down the best, soul soothing, calming, relaxing, educational and entertaining Vlog on the internet!!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 10, 2022 at 5:42 pm

    Here I thought I knew just about all of the old time gospel songs and along comes this one. Parts of the song sound familiar but not the song as a whole.
    Those words have a lot of meaning. I guess I need to learn it!

  • Reply
    Cheryl Miller Brown
    April 10, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    Tipper, I have not heard you say if you won the award yesterday in Kentucky, but saw a couple of comments that indicated you did. So a big congrats if you did win. Will you be posting a video of the event & your win?

  • Reply
    GoodGriefLouise ( Bill )
    April 10, 2022 at 4:20 pm

    I love this song. Thanks Tipper. The story really comes home to me since I have lived in Ellis County, TX for almost 35 years. Midlothian was one of those towns I lived in as well.

  • Reply
    April 10, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    What a blessing, Tipper! This is o e of my favorite songs! I love to sing it and I love the memories of my Daddy singing! Daddy was a lead singer and I’m so thankful he passed on to me the love of gospel music and he taught me to love the Saviour of the songs and I do look forward to seeing Him face to face!

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    April 10, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    awesome thanks for the beautiful memories of times gone by

  • Reply
    April 10, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    Congratulations on the award. You deserve it. You’ve earned it doing something you love.

  • Reply
    April 10, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    Miss Cjndy, I’m glad you told that so I can offer my congratulations today, because this computer is dying, like to never got back on this site. It couldn’t have went to a better or harder working person. YEAH!!!

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    April 10, 2022 at 10:07 am

    Oh this song blessed my heart this morning. I just told my husband I would have loved to have known Pap. Jesus is our friend and will always be with us. Take care and God bless

  • Reply
    Liz Hart
    April 10, 2022 at 9:59 am

    Loved it! Hard to find those old Spirit inspired songs in church anymore. Seems now loud, inane repetitions is to stir emotions……just one old lady’s opinion.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    April 10, 2022 at 9:32 am

    What a wonderful song! Pap and Paul sung and played it very well.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 10, 2022 at 9:08 am

    Paul and Papa’s voices are very similar to me, each tenors. They make a fine duet.

    Thanks for the background of that song. I like to know the backstory behind hymns especially when they grew out of life experiences; for example, “It is Well With My Soul” or “In the Garden”. But overall it may well be that the songs of relationship with the Lord are really the best because the idea behind them will not be superseded but rather fulfilled when we are following the Lamb wherever He leads us. As I posted a few days ago, I suspect the apostles never ‘got over’ wanting to be able to do that again, to be bodily present with the Lord once more. We who are his know without exactly knowing how we know that we will then experience (as the Psalms says) ” fullness of joy”. In this life, it is never quite full.

  • Reply
    April 10, 2022 at 9:06 am

    I love that song and it is made even more beautiful by the men singing it!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2022 at 8:52 am

    I love how Pap and Paul harmonize together. Thank you for sharing on this beautiful Sunday morning.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    April 10, 2022 at 8:14 am

    I really enjoyed Pap and Paul harmonizing and playing this beautiful song! I cannot add to nor take away from perfection! I had never heard this song before, but it’s lovely! Thank you for the Sunday song. What a happy way to start the day indeed!!!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    April 10, 2022 at 8:05 am

    So beautiful! I love the garden photo too.
    A perfect start for this Palm Sunday!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2022 at 8:02 am

    Really enjoyed!! Always been one of my favorites, although we always sang it slower.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    April 10, 2022 at 8:02 am

    So beautiful! I love the garden picture too! A most blessed
    start to this Palm Sunday!

  • Reply
    Pastor Lon
    April 10, 2022 at 8:01 am

    Thoroughly enjoyed listening to Pap & Paul playing and singing this song, they done in justice for sure. This has always been one of my favorite songs, we use to sing it in the choir in church when I was growing up. I love these old songs/hymnals like this because they tell a story about real life feelings & experiences and tug at your heart & soul as they have such real heartfelt meaning to them

    Thanks for sharing Miss Tipper.

  • Reply
    April 10, 2022 at 7:55 am

    I always loved to hear Pap’s beautiful voice and Paul’s too and what a great way to start the morning. No doubt about it, the words of the song are true!!! What a friend we have in Jesus!! God bless and thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    donna sue
    April 10, 2022 at 7:52 am

    The music I have been listening to mostly the past week has been your videos on your music channel. Your Dad’s voice, and the words of the gospel songs he sings with Paul and his brother, Ray, have been giving me so much comfort this past week. I don’t know what my future is going to be – certainly not five years from now, but 6 months from now, either – but the one thing I do know is that God has a plan for me. And I want to live that plan. Because one day I do want to see Him. Life can be very hard. It is not easy to just not do what my heart and mind want me to do right now, to start making my own plans for me. It is hard to say “I will do this Your way, Lord”. But I know the rewards He has for me in Heaven are much better than anything here on earth. So, onward I plod, focusing on Him. This is one of the songs I like to hear on repeat. Thank you for posting it!

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    Martha Justice
    April 10, 2022 at 7:44 am

    I’ve always loved this song also. We don’t sing it much anymore in our church but I will always remember when we were young and in our first church we sang it regularly. ❤

  • Reply
    April 10, 2022 at 7:38 am

    Oh what a blessing you have given me this morning! I remember singing this hymn as a teenager in the little church where I had given my heart to Jesus. Like Pap, I too have always felt Jesus is my closest friend. I always loved this hymn and so many others that glorify and praise our Lord. That actually helped develop that strong relationship with our Lord through music, the lyrics and all the praise of glory. I do enjoy all the modern Christian songs sung now days, but I don’t think they will ever replace the love, fellowship and deep rooted memories the old songs bring to mind.
    They did an amazing job singing and harmonizing on the song! Well done and beautifully sung!
    Thank you for sharing this sweet video, it is a blessing!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 10, 2022 at 7:13 am

    Good job! Pap’s sweet voice and Paul is doing some fancy picking! I miss Pap, he was wise and sweet!
    A big congratulations to you, Tip, on the big award you got last night!

    • Reply
      April 10, 2022 at 12:58 pm

      Miss Cjndy, I’m glad you told that so I can offer my congratulations today, because this computer is dying, like to never got back on this site. It couldn’t have went to a better or harder working person. YEAH!!!

    • Reply
      April 10, 2022 at 2:32 pm

      Please tell us more, Miss Cindy! Tipper is so modest it might be weeks before she lets us know.

  • Reply
    Patricia Voigt
    April 10, 2022 at 7:01 am

    Love, love,love that song! I know you miss Pap, and rejoice that you will see him again in glory.

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