ng Newton's hymn today to an anonymous tune that first appeared with another text in a tune book published in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1829. Six years later, named New Britain and first set to Newton's hymn, it was published in William Walker's "Southern Harmony," an oblong shape-note tune book. Walker, a Baptist singing-school teacher, lived in Spartanburg, S.C.
Texas Baptists' top 10 tunes are rich in history
By William Reynolds
Click on the hymns listed to read their histories:
How Great Thou Art
Because He Lives
The Old Rugged Cross
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Victory in Jesus
Holy, Holy, Holy
Great is Thy Faithfulness
To God be the Glory
It is Well with My Soul
___Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
___That saved a wretch like me;
___I once was lost, but now am found,
___Was blind but now I see.
___John Newton wrote these lines in the 1770s. We do not know the date or circumstances, but we do know that the hymn of six stanzas was first published in 1779, in "Olney Hymns." It was one of 281 hymns Newton contributed to this collection; 67 were by Newton's friend William Cowper.
___Other such collections picked up this text and tune, and it became widely known by fasola singers who used such compilations as "The Sacred Harp," "Hesperian Harp," "The Social Harp" and others.
___More than 24 tunes have been published in the United States for "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound." Today New Britain has replaced them all, and the hymn has become an unofficial national hymn for America.
___The final stanza found in many hymnals today beginning, "When we've been there ten thousand years," is not by John Newton. It seems to be the final stanza of one version of the anonymous English folk hymn "Jerusalem, My Happy Home."
___The anonymous stanza first appeared with Newton's hymn in E.O. Excell's "Coronation Hymns" (Chicago, 1910), with the tune arranged by Excell. Excell's subsequent hymnals and the hymnals of Robert H. Coleman of Dallas exposed this hymn and tune in a remarkable way.
___In the 1940s and 1950s, folk singers emerged, singing in community groups, on campuses, on radio and in concert halls, and sacred folk songs were added to their repertoire. One of these sacred tunes was "Amazing Grace."
___In 1970, the hymn was included in Judy Collins' album "Whales and Nightingales," and in the CD of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, recorded with bagpipes and drums at Redford Barracks, Edinburgh, Scotland. Here was great exposure.
___Bill Moyers' 1990 telecast on public television titled "Amazing Grace" brought further exposure. So today, most recent hymnals include Newton's hymn and the anonymous stanza set to New Britain, and most of these credit the harmonization to E.O. Excell, the Chicago gospel singer and publisher who first put his name on this hymn tune arrangement 91 years ago.
How Great Thou Art
___O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
___Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,
___I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
___Thy power throughout the universe displayed;
___Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee;
___How great thou art, how great thou art!*
___These lines took shape in 1886 in the mind of a Swedish lay preacher. Carl Boberg preached in his hometown, edited a Christian newspaper and served for more than 12 years in the Swedish Parliament.
___He wrote the Swedish hymn "O Store Gud" and set the words to a Swedish folk melody of unknown origin. Words and music appeared in several Christian periodicals and then were published in Boberg's weekly paper, "Sanningsvittnet" (Witness of the T
ruth), in 1891.
___In 1907, a German translation appeared and became very popular in German-speaking areas. From the German text, a Russian translation was made and published in Moscow in 1927.
___That same year Stuart Hine, an English Methodist missionary to the western Ukraine, first heard the song. Later while working in a Carpathian mountain village in Czechoslovakia, he made an English translation during a thunderstorm.
___Later Hine added the second and third stanzas that were not so much translations as his own creation. In 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, Hine returned to England and printed the hymn in a leaflet.
___In 1954, a copy of the leaflet was given to George Beverly Shea during the Billy Graham Crusade in England. Cliff Barrows, Graham's music director, and Shea introduced the hymn in the meetings of the Toronto Crusade in 1955.
___In the decades that followed, the hymn--now translated into many languages--has become truly a favorite among Christian people throughout the world.
___* Words and music copyright 1953 S.K. Hines. Assigned to Manna Music Inc., 35255 Brooten Read, Pacific City, Ore. 97135. Renewed 1981. All rights renewed. Used by permission. ASCAP
Because He Lives
___Because he lives, I can face tomorrow;
___Because he lives, all fear is gone;
___Because I know he holds the future
___And life is worth the living
___Just because he lives.*
___Bill and Gloria Gaither met while she was a student at Anderson College in Indiana. Both were English majors. After they married, they began their careers teaching high school English in Alexandria, Ind., his hometown.
childhood, both had a special interest in music. Now teaching high school students and participating in their home church, they frequently were invited to sing together. Out of this musical activity, new songs began to appear. In 1963, Bill Gaither wrote "He Touched Me," and the immediate acceptance of the song was most gratifying and encouraging.
___In 1971, the Gaither home was blessed with the arrival of a third child. As Bill and Gloria were filled with joy and gratitude for the gift of this baby boy, they were at the same time aware that the world into which he came was filled with injustice, bigotry, greed and immorality.
___In spite of this, they felt the strong assurance of Jesus Christ, and, holding this precious child in their arms, they wrote: "How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives; but greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because He lives."
___In 1974, the Gaithers received the Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association recognizing "Because He Lives" as the Song of the Year. Among more than 200 songs by the Gaithers, this remains one of the top favorites throughout the country.
___* "Because He Lives" by William J. and Gloria Gaither. Copyright 1971 by William J. Gaither. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
The Old Rugged Cross
___On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
___The emblem of suffering and shame;
___And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
___For a world of lost sinners was slain.
___So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
___Till my trophies at last I lay down;
___I will cling to the old rugged cross,
___And exchange it some day for a crown.
___One block from the campus of Albion College, a United Methodist school in Albion, Mich., stands the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house. In front of this building stands a marker erected by the Michigan Historical Commission that reads: "'The Old Rugged Cross,' one of the world's best-loved hymns, was composed here in 1912 by Rev. George Bennard (1873-1958)."
___Bennard began writing the hymn in the fall of 1912, while engaged in revival meetings in Michigan and New York state. Some r
evisions or additions may have been made at Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., for the Friends Church there claims the song was completed during a revival between Dec. 29, 1912, and Jan. 12, 1913, and was sung there for the first time.
___The son of a coal miner, Bennard was born in Youngstown, Ohio. He began working in the mines when he was 15 to support his widowed mother and her six children.
___He became a Christian during a Salvation Army meeting and, later, he and his wife became ardent Salvation Army workers. After several years, he left the Salvation Army to become an independent evangelist. He later joined the Methodist Church. In the northern states of the Midwest and in Canada, he served as a Methodist evangelist.
___The frequent use of the hymn by Homer Rodeheaver in his crusades with Billy Sunday largely accounted for its phenomenal popularity. Though Bennard wrote more than 300 hymns, none but this one endured.
___In his later years, Bennard experienced some frustration because he never was able to duplicate the success of the one song he wrote in 1912 that became so popular.
___He died in 1958, at the age of 85, his last years having been spent in Reed City, Mich. In 1956, the Reed City Chamber of Commerce erected a 12-foot-high wooden cross near his home with an inscription honoring him.
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
___What a friend we have in Jesus,
___All our sins and griefs to bear!
___What a privilege to carry
___Everything to God in prayer!
___Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
___Oh, what needless pain we bear,
___All because we do not carry
___Everything to God in prayer.
___In his small white-frame cottage in Port Hope, Canada, Joseph Scriven lay ill. A friend, who came by to lend a helping hand, happened to see a poem handwritten on the table. He asked Scriven if he had written it, and the elderly man nodded, "The Lord and I did it between us."
___Scriven, born i
n Seapatrick, County Down, Ireland, was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. Because his father was an officer in the Royal Marines, young Joseph dreamed of a military career. He enrolled at Addiscombe Military Seminary in London, but, because of poor health, he had to drop out. In 1844, at the age of 25, he went to Canada.
___For awhile he taught school; then he became a tutor to the Pengelley family who lived at Rice Lake, near Port Hope. Twice he experienced great personal tragedy. During his youth in England, his bride-to-be was accidentally drowned the evening before their wedding.
___In Canada, another romance developed, but before he and Eliza Roche could be married, she died suddenly in 1855, after a brief illness. He wrote his mother regarding Eliza's tragic death and included the poem, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," written in the time of his own grief.
___Scriven devoted his spare time to performing menial work for those who were physically handicapped and financially destitute. He often was seen going up the street with a bucksaw over his shoulder on his way to cut firewood for someone in need.
___In later years, Scriven experienced considerable hardship. With failing health, meager income and the fear of becoming physically helpless, he became greatly distressed.
___On Oct. 10, 1886, the community of Bewdley, 10 miles north of Port Hope, was shocked at the discovery of Scriven's body in the flume of a dam near Rice Lake. It was never known whether his death was an accident or suicide.
___A large monument has been erected at Scriven's grave in the Pengelley family cemetery. The monument bears the stanzas of the hymn and stands as a tribute to this Irish-born immigrant whose hymn of the comforting friendship of Jesus is sung around the world in many languages.
Victory in Jesus
___I heard an old, old story,
___how a Savior came from glory,
___How he gave his life on Calvary
___to save a wretch like me.
___I heard about his groaning,
___of his precious blood's atoning.
___Then I repented of my sin and
___won the victory.
___O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever.
___He sought me and bought me
___with his redeeming blood;
___He loved me 'ere I knew him,
___and all m
y love is due him.
___He plunged me to victory
___beneath the cleansing the flood.*
___Eugene Bartlett, author and composer of both words and music, was born in Missouri. After finishing Hall-Moody Institute in Martin, Tenn., he began teaching in singing schools. Because of his musical gifts and talents, young Bartlett was a sought-after music teacher.
___In 1918, he established the Hartford Music Co. in Hartford, Ark., and published many shape-note songbooks featuring his songs and the songs of contemporary writers.
___For more than 20 years, Bartlett conducted singing schools throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama and Tennessee. For several years he edited a monthly music magazine, Herald of Song, promoting singing schools, including news of local personalities and advertising the newest songbooks.
___"Victory in Jesus" was written in 1939, two years before Bartlett's death. The song first appeared that year in "Gospel Choruses," a paperback songbook published by James Vaughan in Lawrenceburg, Tenn.
___Since the early 1960s, "Victory in Jesus" has become popular among evangelical congregations, and the recent hymnals published for these churches have included it.
___*Copyright 1939, by E.M. Bartlett. Copyright 1967, Mrs. E.M. Bartlett, renewal. Assigned to Albert E. Brumley & Sons. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Integrated Copyright Group Inc., P.O. Box 24149, Nashville, Tenn. 37202
Holy, Holy, Holy
___Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
___Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
___Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
___God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
___The writer of these lines was born into a family of wealth and culture. Endowed with an unusual memory, Reginald Heber had a vivid imagination.
___In the long winter evenings, the boys in his school were fascinated by his recitation of chivalrous stories or ancient ballads partly drawn from books and partly from his own imagination.
is graduation from Oxford University in 1807, Heber took holy orders in the Church of England and became rector of his father's church in the small village of Hodnet.
___The singing of the congregation at Hodnet was poor, nothing to compare with the singing at Olney where John Newton had been pastor. So Heber sought copies of Newton's "Olney Hymns" hoping to bring new enthusiasm to the congregational song.
___At Hodnet, Heber followed the Anglican Prayer Book and the ecclesiastical year. When he could not find hymns appropriate to the Sundays of the year, he solicited new hymns from friends and wrote some himself.
___"Holy, Holy, Holy" is Heber's hymn for Trinity Sunday, eight weeks after Easter.
___In 1823, after 16 years at Hodnet, Heber was appointed bishop of Calcutta. Most of India was in his diocese, and the distances involved in his travel and the climate of the country drained his physical health. He died in India at the age of 43, after three short years of service there for the Church of England.
___John Dykes, noted English composer, wrote the music we use in singing Heber's hymn. He published it in 1861, naming it "Nicaea" in recognition of the Council of Nicaea, which met in A.D. 325. This meeting in Nicaea, an ancient town in Asia Minor, produced a summary of Christian doctrine which included an important affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity.
___The belief in the Trinity--that God is three persons in one, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit--was clearly set forth in this document and is reflected today in the Nicene Creed.
Great is Thy Faithfulness
___Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
___There is no shadow of turning with thee;
___Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
___As thou hast been, thou forever wilt be.
___Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
___Morning by morning new mercies I see;
___All I have needed thy hand hath provided,
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!*
___In 1923, Thomas Chisholm, an insurance salesman living in Vineland, N.J., sent several poems to William Runyan, a friend living in Baldwin, Kan. Among the poems was one beginning "Great is thy faithfulness."
___A native of Kentucky, Chisholm had taught school and was associate editor of his hometown weekly newspaper. In 1893, Chisholm became editor of the "Pentecostal Herald" in Louisville, and in 1902, he was ordained to the Methodist ministry and joined the Louisville Conference.
___After a one-year pastorate, his health failed and he moved to New Jersey and opened an insurance office. Always interested in poetry, he began writing religious poems and is credited with more than 1,000 poems.
___"Great is Thy Faithfulness" is based on Lamentations 3:22-23: "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness."
___Runyan, also a Methodist minister, had grown up in Kansas. After pastoring churches for a dozen years, he was appointed evangelist for the Central Kansas Methodist Conference. A creative musician, he wrote many hymn tunes and was a hymnal compiler and an editor.
___He was associated with John Brown University in Arkansas and later Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. For a number of years he was associated with Hope Publishing Co.
*Copyright 1923, renewed 1951, Hope Publishing Co. Used by permission. All rights secured.
___Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
___O what a foretaste of glory divine!
___Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
___Born of his spirit, washed in his blood.
___This is my story, this is my song,
raising my Savior all the day long.
___Fanny Crosby was visiting in the home of her good friend Phoebe Knapp one afternoon in 1873. Knapp shared with her a new melody she had written and said, "Fanny, what does that melody say to you?"
___Without a moment's hesitation, Crosby replied, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!"
___Crosby's poetic mind quickly pursued this thought, and soon the three stanzas and refrain were completed. Blind from birth, she was a most prolific poet. Her total output of gospel song texts during her lifetime numbered more than 8,000.
___In spite of her blindness, she lived a vigorous life. She died in 1915, at the age of 95. She had learned to read Braille at an early age, but playing the harp and guitar made callouses on her finger tips that made Braille reading difficult.
___Many distinguished leaders on the national scene were her friends. Grover Cleveland, as a young man, worked as a bookkeeper at the New York Institution for the Blind where Crosby taught. They remained good friends in later years.
___She was a frequent visitor to the nation's Capitol. When she read a poem to the United States Senate in session, having been invited to do so, hers was the first woman's voice to be heard publicly in the Senate chamber.
___Knapp, the daughter of Methodist evangelist Walter Palmer, became the bride of Joseph Fairchild Knapp at age 16. A successful business and political leader, he founded the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and served as the first president.
___Mrs. Knapp was a talented musician, a composer and a singer of extraordinary ability. She entertained graciously in her elegant apartment in New York City's Hotel Savoy, in which a large pipe organ had been installed.
___"Blessed Assurance," the combined efforts of two extraordinary women, remains a favorite in our day and is frequently sung in many churches throughout the nation.
To God be the Glory
___In preparation for the 1954 Billy Graham Greater London Crusade, Cliff Barrows, the musical director, was compiling a songbook for use by the great throngs.
meone in London suggested "To God Be the Glory." This was an unfamiliar song to Barrows, but on strong recommendation he included it in the songbook. At Harringay it became an oft-repeated favorite hymn.
___Delighted with this "newfound" song, Barrows returned to the United States and introduced it in the 1954 crusade in Nashville, Tenn., where it was sung enthusiastically at Vanderbilt University's football stadium.
___The "newfound" song was by no means a new song, and it did not originate in England. It is an American gospel song written in 1875, words by the blind songwriter Fanny Crosby, and music by William Howard Doane, a wealthy Cincinnati manufacturer.
___Crosby and Doane collaborated in writing many songs. Some of the familiar ones are "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross," "I Am Thine, O Lord," "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior" and "Rescue the Perishing."
___Intended as a song for Sunday School children, "To God Be the Glory" first was published in a small collection in 1875. Somehow beyond explanation, compilers of subsequent collections of gospel songs seemed to overlook this one, and for 80 years it was forgotten.
___Crosby's text reflects an objective expression rarely found in her lyrics. Here is a straightforward expression of praise to God, not in her usual subjective style.
___The refrain of Doane's tune, "Praise the Lord, praise the Lord," provides the worshipper an opportunity for exuberant praise.
It is Well with My Soul
___In the mid-Atlantic Ocean, the ship's captain called one of his passengers to the bridge and said, "To the best of my calculations, Mr. Spafford, this is where the tragedy occurred and your four little daughters were drowned."
_Weeks earlier, Horatio Spafford had planned a family trip to Europe in November 1873. Business affairs delayed his departure, but he sent his wife and four daughters as planned.
___In mid-ocean, the Ville du Harve was struck by another ship and, in only 12 minutes, disappeared under the waves. Mrs. Spafford was one of the survivors, but the four little girls perished.
___Now on board the first possible ship out of New York, Spafford stood on the bridge contemplating the loss of his girls. He stayed there for some time and then went to his cabin and wrote the poem that begins "When peace like a river attendeth my way."
___Sorrow and tragedy were no strangers to the Spaffords. The 1871 Chicago fire had wiped out Spafford's extensive real estate holdings on the north shore of Lake Michigan. And in 1880, their 4-year-old son, Horatio, died of scarlet fever.
___Some members at the Presbyterian congregation to which the Spaffords belonged maintained that some sin in their lives had caused all these tragedies. Finally the Spaffords were asked to leave their church, which they did with unwavering faith in God.
___Long interested in biblical archeology, Spafford, along with his wife and several friends, settled in Jerusalem in 1881. After Spafford's death in 1888, his daughter, Bertha Spafford Vester, led the group to establish the American Colony Hotel, which has provided a welcome oasis for travelers to Jerusalem for more than a century.
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