Posted by: rcottrill | August 18, 2010

Today in 1856 – Charles Gabriel Born

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
Higher Ground*
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
Graphic NewspaperOne 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.


Responses

  1. 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.

    I love those words! It is the personalization of the gospel…for me, He did that!! I completely agree. How could a congregation of believers hurry through and not relish the meaning of those beautiful words!?

    • As to how could a congregation rush through such words? Easy. #1. By not thinking about what they’re singing. And #2. By enjoying the music as a kind of end in itself, rather than seeing it as merely a setting for the message of the words.

  2. Thank you for visiting me over at The Point. I enjoyed your post on the Mr. Gabriel. It is so interesting to know the background behind some of our fav hymns. God bless you as you minister in this totally unique way.

    Leah

    • Thanks for the encouragement. And you make a comment I’ve heard many times over the years–that understanding a bit about the hymn writers, or why they wrote a particular song, enables us to sing with more understanding and spiritual blessing.

  3. Thank you for visiting me and leaving me a comment. I love hymns, and have enjoyed visiting your blog very much. Karen

    • You’re welcome. Lord willing, I will do an entire year of these almanac entries. Then, I have ideas for developing the hymn blog in other ways. Doing my best to keep interest in these great treasures alive. God bless.

  4. […] Read more about Haldor Lillenas over here. […]

  5. I’ve come up with a fifth verse for THE BIBLE STANDS based on Ps 12:6-7. What do you think?

    The Bible stands every word as silver
    In a furnace purified;
    Thou shall keep them Lord and preserve them for-ever
    From the evil on every side.

    http://www.hymnpod.com/2010/08/19/the-bible-stands/

  6. Here’s another possible verse:

    The Bible stands every jot and tittle
    from the law shall be fulfilled
    Till heav’n and earth shall pass away
    Jesus’ words are firmly sealed

    • Well… Not quite up to Mr. Lillenas. But interesting. The stanza’s of the original are in a very irregular metre (10.7.10.8). The composer makes it work, with the tune, but it certainly is an odd combination. You have some lines that need either to be shorter or longer, in both your stanzas. Some suggestions:

      The Bible stands, every jot and tittle [10. And I’d add a comma.]
      From the law shall be fulfilled; [7. “Of” works more smoothly than “from” in my view.]
      Till heav’n and earth shall pass away [8. Two beats short.]
      Jesus’ words are firmly sealed [7. One beat short.]

      The Bible stands, every word as silver [10]
      In a furnace purified; [7]
      Thou shalt keep them, Lord, and preserve them forever [12. Two beats too many. And see *.]
      From the evil on every side. [8]

      *I think maybe “shalt” or “wilt” is needed on this line, rather than “shall,” And there should be commas before and after “Lord.” “Forever” does not need a hyphen. It’s a bit awkward, but you might shorten the line to: “Thou’lt keep them, Lord, and preserve them ever.”

  7. Thanks. Your comments certainly help a great deal.

    I think the following should work:

    The Bible stands, ever word as silver,
    In a furnace purified.
    Thou’lt keep them, Lord, and preserve them ever,
    From the evil on every side.

    The Bible stands, ever jot and tittle,
    of the law shall be fulfilled.
    Till the heav’n and earth shall all pass away,
    Jesus’ words will be firmly sealed.

    Will these words ever make it to a hymnal?
    Probably not, but Jesus’ words will remain forever. Amen!

    • H-m-m… Well I’m assuming the “ever” in line one of both stanzas is simply a typo for “every.” Otherwise, the first stanza looks fine. In the second, likely “of” is a typo for “Of.” But the third line still has problems. It’s not just a matter of getting the right number of beats, but of getting the em-PHA-sis on the right syl-LA-ble. Lillenas has the emphasis on the 2nd and 7th syllables in that line (i.e. the first beat of the bar in each case). In your third line of the second stanza, that would lead to this oddity: Till THE heav’n and earth shall ALL pass away. It’s coming, though. 🙂

  8. Thanks again. Forgive my imperfections. Yes, there are typos. “ever” should be “every”

    This should do it:

    The Bible stands, every word as silver,
    In a furnace purified.
    Thou’lt keep them, Lord, and preserve them ever,
    From the evil on every side.

    The Bible stands, every jot and tittle,
    Of the law shall be fulfilled.
    Till hea-ven and earth shall all pass away,
    Jesus’ words will be firmly sealed.

  9. […] mostly he is known as a composer of melodies for the words of others. (For more on Mr. Gabriel see Today in 1856.) Among the songs for which he wrote both words and music is a hymn of aspiration called More Like […]

  10. […] Haldor Lillenas (b. Nov. 19, 1885; d. Aug. 18, 1959) Music: Haldor Lillenas Links: Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  11. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber […]

  12. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber Hymnal (Ruth Caye […]

  13. […] Wordwise Hymns (Charles Gabriel born, died) The Cyber […]

  14. […] Wordwise Hymns (Charles Gabriel born) The Cyber […]


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