Posted by: rcottrill | September 26, 2018

I Do, Don’t You?

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Melville Winans Miller (b. June 23, 1856; d. Sept. 11, 1933)
Music: Edwin Othello Excell (b. Dec. 13, 1851; d. June 10, 1921)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Edwin Excell)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: This song was written in 1907. Melville Miller seems to have had a number of varied careers: a lawyer, county surveyor, newspaper editor, and high school English teacher, in Indiana. In addition to penning several gospel songs, he wrote poetry and short stories. Edwin Excell wrote many gospel songs, including Since I Have Been Redeemed, and composed music for the songs of others.

Born in Moline, Illinois, in 1918, Helen grew up in a home financially struggling, as many were during the Great Depression. But she had a marketable asset, a very fine singing voice. Her idol was Kate Smith, and she was encouraged to learn that Kate, too, had no formal training as a singer.

Helen became a blues singer with a dance band in the 1930’s, and performed in concerts and on radio. As her audience grew, she received many requests to sing the popular songs of the day. The one kind of music she refused to sing was hymns, she had no interest in that–ironic, given what lay in the future.

What did interest her, after singing for some YWCA shows, was social work, especially among poor children. But where could she get training? Helen didn’t have enough money for a university education. However, she heard about Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, which offered a tuition-free education. When she enrolled there in 1939, she was not a Christian. But, as she listened to the testimonies of other students, she realized something was missing in her life.

“I thought I had met the requirements of an entrance into heaven,” Helen said. “The most important thing I lacked, but didn’t realize until then, was the message that Jesus Himself had said to Nicodemus: ‘You must be born again’ [Jn. 3:3]. For the first time, I truly believed that Jesus had died for me, and I asked Him to come into my heart and life. I knew as I got up off of my knees that I, too, could give a testimony that Jesus was now my personal Saviour.”

That decision set her life on a new course. She saw her clear alto voice and musical ability as a gift from God which she could use to serve Him. She began singing on Moody’s own radio station, WMBI, and went on to make many recordings of gospel music. Work with another gospel singer, Bev Shea, and her association with Billy Graham, and Youth for Christ, spread her fame still further. Along the way, she was married to evangelist Reinhold Barth, and the couple raised three children.

“The Lord gave me a new song,” she said, “a song of peace and praise, of grace and gladness.” Helen Lillian McAlerney Barth died in 2017 at the age of 98. But from those days at Moody, until the Lord took her home, her goal was to sing to His praise, inviting others to trust in the Lord as she did.

When the Lord Jesus healed a demon-possessed man, he wanted to go with Jesus and serve Him. But the Lord responded, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mk. 5:18-19). That was the passion of Helen Barth, to tell others about Christ, with the hope that they too would trust in Him.

Believers are to be witnesses to the goodness and saving power of the Lord. David expressed his own desire to be a witness, “That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works” (Ps. 26:7). And Jesus told His followers, “You shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8). Christians should “always be ready to give a defense [an answer] to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15).

A song recorded by Helen that seems to capsulize her witness is one called I Do, Don’t You?

1) I know a great Saviour, I do; don’t you?
I live by His favour, I do; don’t you?
For grace I implore Him, I worship before Him,
I love and adore Him, I do; don’t you?

2 ) I need Him to lead me, I do; don’t you?
Heav’n’s manna to feed me, I do; don’t you?
Whatever betide me, I need Him beside me,
In mercy to hide me, I do; don’t you?

4) I want Him to use me, I do; don’t you?
For service to choose me, I do; don’t you?
I want Him to bless me, to own and confess me,
Completely possess me, I do; don’t you?

Questions:
1) Has anyone ever asked you if you are a Christian?

2) Have you ever asked anyone else if he or she is a Christian? (What response did you get?)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Edwin Excell)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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