During our song service this past Sunday morning Justin Thornton led the hymn, “There Was One Who Was Willing.” There are some songs, hymns in particular, that bring the voices of particular people to my head and to my heart with such clarity, I can nearly feel the presence of certain persons. Am I the only one with such feelings, or do you recognize them as similar?
“There Was One Who Was Willing.” always brings a return to my teen years of singing soprano in response to my mother’s request to “Please come sing with me.” She had a wonderful gift of true harmony and while she generally sang alto, on this song, her voice smoothly transitioned to the high tenor. While I would thoroughly enjoy having a recording of one of our sessions, particularly one that would include this hymn, I don’t really have to because it is so well embedded in my musical memory box. Without having to be wound up, it plays each time I hear the song. I am thankful.
Another voice I hear is that of my daddy when we sing “Without Him”. Daddy and George Beverly Shea had unforgettable timbres of similar quality. As I recall, that hymn gained popularity not too long prior to my daddy’s death, but I know he favored it in more ways than one.
Of the myriad that does stand out to me, another song I respect more than I alone would have chosen, is ”Worthy Art Thou” that we seldom sing. After Daddy died, I found his easy-recognize-pencil-handwriting by the title simply stating, “Good Song”. Coming from Daddy it meant I must pay closer heed to its words.
Before that, there was a summer day when our young family of four, John and I, with Beth, 3-and-1/2, and Chip, 1-and-1/2, were house-hunting. We were in our Plymouth that shortly before had suffered a burned-out clutch at the end of a very long day of travel, while we were hauling a U-Haul type trailer that held all our earthly belongings. With a good night’s rest and a once again road-ready car, we were driving through neighborhoods, looking for “For Rent” signs when we passed the church building. From the back seat, Beth started to sing, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Lesson taken, little girl. I cannot say for sure, but I don’t think that hymn has EVER been led in an assembly of which I have been a part, but what the memory of that young voice in song has returned to my head and my heart.
I’ve read of touches of humor in relation to how, before they can read, children misunderstand words of hymns. Here’s one that stays in my music memory. I was tending nursery the last day our son, Chip, was at services before he left to serve in the USAF, so I didn’t hear this, but was told about it later. Because I knew the petite, 6-year-old blond who sat beside our son, I could well imagine how her ability to project her singing voice sounded as she sang out her praises, “And His glory is exhausted, And His glory is exhausted, And His glory is exhausted far above the earth and sky.” Michelle, to this day you are unforgettable! You brought so many smiles, not only on that day, but also on many days since.
The scripture says, “A happy heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22) Singing these songs and hearing the voices from the past is uplifting. Have any of these tales brought any memories of similar hymns/songs stories from your hearts? If so, why don’t you share? We’d really love to hear them!
© M Sue