Mr. Gabriel was one of the outstanding gospel song composers of the first part of the twentieth century. Raised on an Iowa farm, he took an early interest in music. When his family obtained a small reed organ, he soon taught himself to play it. At the age of 16 he began teaching singing schools, and his gift for composing was soon recognized. He wrote many gospel songs during his lifetime. Equally skilled at writing verse or composing music, he often supplied both. For a little more about him, see here.
Beginning in 1912, Charles Hutchinson Gabriel was associated with the Rodeheaver Publishing Company. His output was amazing. He edited 35 gospel song books, 8 Sunday School song books, 7 books for men’s voices, and 6 for ladies voices, 10 children’s song books, 19 collections of anthems and 23 cantatas. When he published his own songs, he sometimes used the pen name Charlotte G. Homer. Here is a sampling of his work, songs still in common use. (For those marked with an asterisk, Gabriel wrote only the music.)
As a Volunteer*
Dear Little Stranger
He Is So Precious to Me
He Lifted Me
I Need Jesus*
I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go
Just When I Need Him Most*
More Like the Master
My Saviour’s Love (I stand amazed in the presence…)
O It Is Wonderful
O That Will Be Glory
Send the Light
Since Jesus Came Into My Heart*
Where the Gates Swing Outward Never
Space will not allow a consideration of all these songs here, but I would like to comment on one of them. My Saviour’s Love is a fine hymn of praise. But it suffers from one particular characteristic, the high quality of its tune. It is so singable, that it is not unusual for a congregation to run away with it, gaining almost breakneck speed! But that does not suit the text of several stanzas. When the hymn is hurried, the required mood of reverent awe is lost.
I have literally wept in services when the following words have been sung at a jaunty pace, seemingly without due regard for their meaning. A jolly, rollicking pace is virtually sacrilege here.
For me it was in the garden
He prayed: “Not My will, but Thine.”
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.
He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered and died alone.
My counsel to song leaders is that you encourage the congregation to sing this hymn slowly and meditatively. The pace can be picked up appropriately with the last stanza.
(2) Today in 1959 – Haldor Lillenas Died
Lillenas was born in Norway, and was brought to America as a baby when his parents immigrated. After training, he became a pastor and an evangelist with the Nazarene denomination, but it is as a gospel song writer that he is best known today. In 1924 he founded the Lillenas Music Company.
Haldor Lillenas wrote about 4,000 song texts and tunes. Among the better known are: Jesus Will Walk with Me, The Bible Stands, Wonderful Peace (“Coming to Jesus, my Saviour, I found…”), and Wonderful Grace of Jesus.
The Bible Stands, written in 1917, provides a rousing affirmation of the Bible’s authority and certain endurance. It needs to be sung more widely than it has been, given the many attacks on the Word of God today.
The Bible stands like a rock undaunted
’Mid the raging storms of time;
Its pages burn with the truth eternal,
And they glow with a light sublime.
The Bible stands though the hills may tumble,
It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble;
I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,
For the Bible stands.
Wonderful Grace of Jesus was written as a choral selection, but a medium-sized congregation can learn it and sing it with profit. If you are teaching it, it would be helpful to have a choir or small group introduce it in order to help the congregation sort out the men’s and ladies’ parts in the chorus. We need to celebrate God’s saving grace.
The following example is taken a little too quickly. No need to race it. And the interjected “Amens,” etc. along the way are simply expressions of Pentecostal exuberance. We don’t do that in our church, but I appreciate their enthusiasm.
(3) Today in 1972 – Ruth Jones Died
One day in 1943, when the War was at its height, Ruth Caye Jones (affectionately known as Mother Jones) was meditating on the words of Second Timothy 3:1, “Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come”–perilous, meaning troublesome, harsh, dangerous times! That certainly describes 1943, she thought. With a war on, the daily newspaper seemed to present a litany of bad news. But the Lord gave her a message of hope and challenge, In Times Like These.
Taking a small pad from her apron pocket, she jotted down the words of a song. A self-taught organist and pianist, with no formal musical training, she wrote the tune as well! (It was only in later years she realized the first four notes of her song about “time” matched the “ding … dong … dong … dong” of their clock in the living room, chiming the passing hours!)
The wife of Pastor Bert Jones, and mother of five children, she and her family had a unique ministry. A radio program was developed in 1948 called “A Visit With the Joneses,” which enabled those who tuned in to meet with them for family devotions week by week. Originally, the plan was to transmit the program from the radio station. But days before the first broadcast the station manager suggested using the phone lines to bring it to the listening audience directly from the Jones’s home. It worked so well the “visit” became popular for the next 55 years!
In times like these you need a Saviour,
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the solid Rock!
This Rock is Jesus, yes, He’s the One;
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the solid Rock.