Tag Archives: hymn history

Guest Post: Hymn History: Thomas Dorsey, “The Father of Gospel Music” From Lights 4 God Blog

Monday, July 1st, marks the birthday of Thomas Dorsey, who wrote “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “Peace in the Valley.” Our friends over at the Lights4God blog shared the biography of Thomas Dorsey with us, and we’d like to share it with you. It is a remarkable story, with great words of comfort arising from great sorrow, and how God’s call remains, even while we are chasing worldly pursuits … I’m also reminded, again, of how important being raised in a Godly home is …

Thomas Dorsey was born in Villa Rica, GA, (Yeah Villa Rica!!! We’ll return there next month!). I was there at the ceremony, when they dedicated the Historical Marker in Thomas Dorsey’s honor, in Villa Rica, back in 1994.
Here are the words on the Historical Marker, taken from Wikipedia:

Marker text
Thomas A. Dorsey historical marker

THOMAS A. DORSEY

Father of Gospel

Thomas Andrew Dorsey, composer of over 400 blues and gospel songs, lived here following his birth in Villa Rica on July 1, 1899. At Mt. Prospect Baptist Church he was exposed to shape-note singing and at home learned to play a used pump organ, experiences he said “sprang” his career. The young blues pianist moved to Chicago in 1919 in the Great Migration.

Dorsey wrote the world’s most popular gospel-blues song after his wife and newborn son died unexpectedly on August 26 and 27, 1932. That song, Take My Hand, Precious Lord has been translated into 32 languages. Aretha Franklin recorded Take My Hand, Precious Lord in 1956, the same year Tennessee Governor Frank Clement recited it. It became the anthem of Fannie Lou Hamer’s Mississippi Summer. Dorsey’s friend, Mahalia Jackson, sang it at Martin Luther King, Jr’s funeral. Elvis Presley’s recording of Dorsey’s second-most-popular gospel song, Peace in the Valley, sold millions of copies.

For a while, any new gospel-blues song, regardless of who wrote it, was called a “Dorsey” until Dorsey himself coined the name “gospel”. Dorsey died in Chicago on January 23, 1993.

022-8 GEORGIA HISTORIC MARKER 1994
Historical information

This historical marker sits alongside U.S. Hwy 78 because the actual house Dorsey was born in has been gone a long time. Dorsey’s home was approximately 1/4 mile NNW of the marker’s location. The Mt. Prospect Baptist Church building Dorsey learned music in has also been gone a long time although the church itself is still an active part of the Villa Rica community.

Now, please enjoy the guest post from the Lights4God blog. Here’s a direct link:
THOMAS DORSEY | Lights 4 God.

 

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He’s Still Alive, Forgiving, Healing, and Saving

I wanted to share this video of Don Francisco singing his great song “He’s Alive.” As a bonus, the beginning of the video has a short interview with Don and Wendy Francisco, with Don explaining the story behind the song. I didn’t realize that the original “narrator” in the song was Thomas …
I love what Don says about why he chose to write Peter as the narrator.
So many of us can relate to Simon Peter, for reasons which Don touches on here.
When I was researhing this song on YouTube, I noticed the comment posted underneath the video. Someone had written how the song “He’s Alive” played a large part in leading them to Jesus as their Savior. Because, through the song, they realized that if Jesus could forgive Peter, He would forgive them. They accepted Christ, because Christ had accepted them.

It comes to my “writing mind” that, when Jesus was talking to Peter, the thought “From one Rock to another” came to mind.

Enjoy the interview, and the song. This song is “Alive!”

P.S. By the way, Don is the son of a Pastor.

Here is a direct link to the official Don Francisco website:

http://www.rockymountainministries.org/

Special Time, Special Songs, Special Savior

One of my all-time favorite sermons, and quotes, is “It may be Friday … But Sunday’s on the way!!!”
Two of my favorite songs are “Then Came the Morning” and “There Rose a Lamb,” both of which really convey that message, and should encourage us every day of the year.
I’d like to share both of those songs with you:
First, here’s Guy Penrod, singing with the Longview Heights Baptist Church Choir, as part of their Easter Service, in 2010:

Next, here’s Ivan Parker singing with Gold City:

 

Heroes of the Faith/ Hymn History: Phillips Brooks: Writer of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

Phillips BrooksPhillips Brooks was a descendent of the earliest Puritans of Massachusetts. He studied at Harvard, taught for a short time in Virginia, and was ordained in the Episcopal Church about five years before the American Civil War began. He was one of the most eloquent preachers of his time, and due to his great oratorical skills, he served in prominent churches in Philadelphia and Boston (Trinity Church). He was for many years an overseer and preacher of Harvard University. Brooks’ close ties with Harvard University led to the creation of Phillips Brooks House in Harvard Yard. On January 23, 1900, it was dedicated to serve “the ideal of piety, charity, and hospitality.”
Phillips Brooks as young manIn 1877 Brooks published a course of lectures on preaching, which he had delivered at the theological school of Yale University, and which are an expression of his own experience. In 1878 he published his first volume of sermons, and from time to time issued other volumes.
Phillips Brooks was introduced to Helen Keller, when she was young, by Anne Sullivan. Brooks has been given credit for introducing Helen to Christianity.
Toward the end of his life, Brooks was chosen bishop of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts. His entire life, he had touched many lives by his preaching as well as his personal Christian walk. In addition to his moral stature, he was a man of great physical bearing as well, standing six feet four inches tall.

“To know in one’s whole nature what it is to live by Christ; to be His, not our own; to be so occupied with gratitude for what He did for us and for what He continually is to us that His will and His glory shall be the sole desires of our life.”

As a boy, Phillips’ parents had hymn-sings on Sunday evenings, and by the time Phillips went to college, he knew over two hundred hymns. Many of these would be included in his sermons, and Phillips wrote poems and hymns himself.
Today Phillips is best remembered as the writer of the great Christmas hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” which was written in l868. His inspiration for writing the classic hymn?
It was a Christmas Eve he spent in Bethlehem some years before, which, as you could imagine, left a lasting impression on his mind. He was inspired by the view of Bethlehem from the hills of Palestine, especially at night. Brooks loved children, and wrote this song for the children in his Sunday School when he was rector of Philadelphia’s Holy Trinity Church.
Lewis Redner, who was the organist and Sunday School superintendent for the church, wrote the music.
Brooks loved children and would often write letters to them. That explains why, when Brooks died on January 23, 1893, a five year old was upset because she had not seen her preacher friend for several days. Her mother told her Bishop Brooks had gone to heaven, and the child exclaimed, “Oh, Mama, how happy the angels will be.”

These words are placed over his tomb: “A preacher of righteousness and hope, majestic in stature, impetuous in utterance, rejoicing in the truth, unhampered by the bonds of church or state, he brought by his life and doctrine fresh faith to a people, fresh meanings to ancient creeds.”

 

Henry Alford – Author of Thanksgiving Hymn “Come Ye Thankful People Come”

Here are the words to the Hymn:

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home!

We ourselves are God’s own field,
Fruit unto his praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear;
Grant, O harvest Lord, that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take the harvest home;
From His field shall in that day
All offences purge away,
Giving angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In the garner evermore.

Then, thou Church triumphant come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All be safely gathered in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In God’s garner to abide;
Come, ten thousand angels, come,
Raise the glorious harvest home!

Now, here’s the link to read the story of Henry Alford:

Henry Alford – Author of Thanksgiving Hymn “Come Ye Thankful People Come”

Online Blog-Christian Hymns History: Wordwise Hymns

Here is a great resource for you:

Here, in almanac form, is a huge collection of hymn histories.

This blog features the history and the biblical themes of hymns.

Enjoy:

wordwisehymns.com