Pat Boone wrote this song in tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. after learning the civil rights leader had been shot and killed in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Boone told the story in a Songfacts interview
"I was in Washington, DC the night Martin Luther King was assassinated. I sat up all night, watching all the horrific TV reports, but also, the replays - over and over - of his most famous and moving speeches. It was a very emotional time for all of us. And for me. The next day, I was flying home, and on the plane, I had my face against the window, because I was tearful and his powerful words kept running through my mind. And I was thinking, 'What a sensational man this is, and has been.' I thought, 'There needs to be a song.'
And before I got off the plane that day - to LA - I had written a song to a gospel melody. Of course, Martin Luther King was a reverend, a minister, and he was preaching. One of his most famous sermons was in a church. If not the night before, very shortly before he was killed, he said, 'I have been to the mountain top, I may not get to go there with you, but the Lord has been taking me up in his right hand, and let me see into the promised land. I may not go with you, but you will come, one day, you will go into the promised land.' So, I thought, 'Those words need to be immortalized in music,' and I recorded the song."