Forgotten Verses #8: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most noted American poets of the mid-1800s, wrote the words to “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day.” His first three verses are familiar: 1. I heard the bells on Christmas day Their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good…

The Essential Songwriter Collection: Beverly Lowry

The Essential Songwriter Collection series lists ten songs each from legendary songwriters that every Southern Gospel fan should add to their collections. The response to Beverly Lowry’s passing last week highlighted how many fans view her primarily as Mark Lowry’s mother, and not as much a songwriter in her own right as she deserves to…

Forgotten Verses #7: Till The Storm Passes By

The Statesmen introduced many of Mosie Lister’s great songs. The Statesmen’s timeless arrangements have been emulated by so many of the groups that have recorded those songs since that the Statesmen arrangement practically defines how we know these songs today. An excellent case in point is “Till The Storm Passes By.” Mosie Lister originally wrote…

Forgotten Verses #6: “Sweet Hour of Prayer”

William Walford, a blind preacher, wrote the words to “Sweet Hour of Prayer” in 1845. The words didn’t become well known for another sixteen years; in 1861, William Bradbury—known today for his many collaborations with Fanny Crosby—wrote the melody we sing today. The song made its first appearance in the 1861 hymnal Golden Chain. The hymn…

The roar of B-17 engines, and the importance of teaching children hymns

Happy Veteran’s Day! The other day, as I was outside exercising, I heard a sound that instantly took me back to my childhood. My apartment lies near the approach path for landing at one of the Asheville Airport runways, so I hear certain engine sounds all the time: The shrill whine of a commercial airline…

Forgotten Verses #5: There Is A Fountain

In our previous entry in the Forgotten Verses column, we discussed the publication of the hymnal Olney Hymns, by John Newton and William Cowper. Two of the greatest hymns in the history of the church were introduced in this hymnal. One, “Amazing Grace,” we discussed in the last column. Today, let’s look at the other, “There…

Michael English and Mark Lowry to leave the Gaither Vocal Band

Last week, news circulated that Mark Lowry was leaving the Gaither Vocal Band. Lowry confirmed the news in a video posted yesterday morning. Lowry indicated that a press release would be forthcoming. What Lowry didn’t add was that Michael English has also decided to leave the Gaither Vocal Band. In the official announcement, Bill Gaither commented:…

Forgotten Verses #4: Amazing Grace

February 15, 1779 was a momentous day in the history of English-language hymnwriting. In February 1779, the American Revolution was still under way, and an attempt by French and American forces to recapture Savannah, Georgia had just failed. Armies on both sides were gearing up for their summer campaigns. So it would perhaps be understandable…

Forgotten Verses #3: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Isaac Watts is counted as the father of English-language hymn-writing, and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is usually acknowledged as his greatest work. In fact, Charles Wesley, another person who would stand shoulder to shoulder with Watts on any top-five list of greatest English-language hymn-writers, reportedly commented that he would have given up every…