Septimus Winner, a self taught musician, ran a music store and gave lessons on various instruments. He wrote or edited over 200 music books for more than 20 different instruments, as well as producing or arranging 2,000 songs for violin and piano. Winner was the writer of many popular songs in the nineteenth century. Listen to the Mocking Bird is one of his. (He sold the rights to it for $5, and in a few years it had sold twenty million copies!) Another of Septimus Winner’s creations is the nursery song Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?
The author is known in hymnody for writing Whispering Hope, a gospel song which speaks vaguely of the believer’s hope in the resurrection, based on Christ’s conquest of the grave.
Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.
Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.
Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Whither the Master has entered,
Robbing the grave of its goal.
Come then, O come, glad fruition,
Come to my sad weary heart;
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
Never, O never depart.
Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae were well known pop singers of a generation ago. In addition to all the popular music they recorded separately, they made a fine recording of hymns together. It’s an examble of clear, unaffecting singing, and a beautiful blending of voices. Here from that recording is Whispering Hope.
(2) Today in 1851 – James Gray Born
James Martin Gray served as rector of a Reformed Episcopal church in Boston. But he is best known as the dean, and then the president, of Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago. He authored many books, and is responsible for the publication of the four editions of The Voice of Thanksgiving, the official hymnals of the Institute. My father was a student at Moody back in the 1920’s, and I have his copy of The Voice o Thanksgiving No. 4 before me as I write. (It was published in 1928.)
James Gray wrote many hymns. One of these, unfamiliar to me, is found in the inside cover of the volume mentioned. It is a lovely little song about prayer.
O God, I want to thank Thee
That Thou hast answered prayer!
I made my supplication,
My anxious heart laid bare;
And Thou hast kept Thy promise,
And from Thy throne on high
Didst bow Thine ear to hearken
And grant Thy servant’s cry.
Men say that it is folly
To bend the knee in prayer,
Or talk to Thee as children,
Or think that Thou dost care;
But there is that within us–
Didst Thou not put it there?
That urges the petition
And bids us do and dare!
(For more about Dr. Gray and another of his hymns, see Today in 1935. ) More familiar than the above is Gray’s song, Nor Silver Nor Gold, based on the words of the Apostle Peter:
You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (I Pet. 1:18-19)
Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption,
Nor riches of earth could have saved my poor soul;
The blood of the cross is my only foundation,
The death of my Saviour now maketh me whole.
I am redeemed, but not with silver,
I am bought, but not with gold;
Bought with a price, the blood of Jesus,
Precious price of love untold.
(3) Today in 2008 – Dottie Rambo Died
Joyce Reba Luttrell (Dottie) Rambo was a Grammy award winning Southern Gospel singer and song writer in the latter half of the twentieth century. She wrote over 2,500 songs, and ASCAP awarded her their Lifetime Achievement Award. But her days were not without heartache. She was troubled by severe health problems in the 1990’s, and by the breakup of her marriage. Her death came as the result of a bus accident as she traveled between engagements.
Among Dottie Rambo’s best known songs are He Looked Beyond My Fault, and We Shall Behold Him. The latter song was written in 1981. On her way to a meeting in Ohio, she observed an unusually beautiful cloud formation. It brought to mind the coming glory of Christ’s return and she immediately turned the experience into a song.
The sky shall unfold, preparing His entrance;
The stars shall applaud Him with thunders of praise.
The sweet light in His eyes shall enhance those awaiting;
And we shall behold Him then face to face.
And we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him
Face to face in all of His glory. O we shall behold Him,
We shall behold Him face to face, our Saviour and Lord.