March 3, 2024

Call To Worship

He’s My King: 219

A song which praises Christ as our King is “He’s My King” (#12 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #173 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by James Rowe (1865-1933). An immigrant to the United States from England, he was a prolific author of gospel songs, best known probably for his words to “Love Lifted Me.” The tune was composed by James David Vaughan, who was born in Giles County, TN, near Lawrence County, on Dec. 14, 1864. After studying at the Ruebush Kieffer Normal School, he became a music publisher, composer, and compiler of gospel songs in shaped notation. Beginning in 1890 through 1911, he produced gospel songs and songbooks under his own name, the first of which was Gospel Chimes. This song, “He’s My King,” was first published in his 1911 Hallelujah Voices.

     In 1891, Vaughan originated the idea of the male gospel quartet with his brothers Charles, John, and Will and in 1910 went on the road with the Southern Gospel Quartet to promote his songbooks. This move was highly successful and his sales doubled the next year, to 60,000 volumes.  After working as a teacher, he eventually moved to Lawrenceburg, TN, where in 1911 he founded the Vaughan School of Music and in 1912 he established the J. D. Vaughan Music Publishing Company, which by 1964 had issued 105 collections of music, mostly for gospel singing conventions.  This firm also sponsored singing schools and music normals to train singing school teachers, as well as publishing a trade journal, Vaughan’s Musical Visitor.

     In 1921 Vaughan expanded his business by opening Vaughan Phonograph Records, and in 1928 he built the first radio station in Tennessee, which was for the purpose of broadcasting his music. Later he opened branch offices in Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. The manager of the Jacksonville, TX, branch, Virgil O. Stamps, would eventually help to form the Stamps-Baxter Music Company. Another of Vaughan’s collaborations with Rowe that is found in many of our books is “God Holds the Future in His Hands.” Vaughan provided both words and music for a song, “I Need The Prayers,” that is found in Special Sacred Selections and Church Gospel Songs and Hymns. Some of our books have other songs which have music by him such as, “Just One Way to the Gate” and “I Feel Like Travelling On.” He died in Lawrenceburg on Feb. 9, 1941.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use among churches of Christ, “He’s My King” appeared in the 1944 Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by Will W. Slater; and the 1978 Hymns of Praise edited by Reuel Lemmons. Today, it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise, all edited by Alton H. Howard, and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; as well as Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

Welcome and Opening Prayer
Scripture Reading

I Know That My Redeemer Lives: 282

A song which helps us to remember that our Redeemer lives is “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” (#401 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #249 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Jessie H. Brown Pounds (1861-1921). A prolific author of hymn poems, she also produced “Am I Nearer to Heaven Today?”, “Anywhere With Jesus,” “Are You Coming to Jesus Tonight?”, “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere,” “Soul, a Savior Thou Art Needing,” “The Way of the Cross Leads Home,” and “Will You Not Tell It Today?” The tune (Hannah) for “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” was composed by James Henry Fillmore (1849-1936). The song, possibly based on an earlier hymn by Charles Wesley, first appeared as part of a cantata Hope’s Messenger, published in 1893 by the Fillmore Brothers Music House. Its first hymnbook inclusion was in The Praise Hymnal of 1896 compiled by Fillmore and Gilbert J. Ellis.

     This is the hymn that Elmer L. Jorgenson recast and joined to a tune and chorus by James Holmes Rosecrans to make the hymn “O ‘Twas Wonderful Love” for the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 that is also found in many of our books. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” appeared in the 1917 Selected Revival Songspublished by F. L. Rowe; the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1938/1944 New Wonderful Songs edited by Thomas S. Cobb. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.


Higher Ground: 234

A hymn which encourages us to press on to what the New King James version calls the “upward call” is “Higher Ground” (#109 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #14 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. (1856-1922). The most famous song by this prolific writer of hymn texts, who was born in New Jersey, is probably “Count Your Blessings.” The tune was composed by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856-1932). In addition to providing melodies for
others’ texts, this Iowa native also produced gospel songs with both words and music, such as “O That Will Be Glory.”

     According to Gabriel’s own account, “Higher Ground” was finished in 1892, but he sold it for five dollars to a Philadelphia, PA, songbook compiler, J. Howard Entwisle. It was then first published in the 1898 Songs of Love and Praise, No. 5, which Entwisle compiled with John R. Sweney and Frank M. Davis. Many of Gabriel’s songs came into common use among churches of Christ when he helped T. B. Larimore edit The New Christian Hymn Book in 1907 for the Gospel Advocate Co.

     Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, this song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church(No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs osf the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.

Communion Meditation

Victory in Jesus: 717

It’s a song we have sung for as long as I can remember, yet I don’t think I ever really paid attention to the lyrics until now. When I began to look for another song feature this one came to mind. You see, I have a dear friend who has a teaching ministry called Bringing to Light. She opens each broadcast with the words, Today is your day for Victory In Jesus! She recently shared with me some good news that she and her husband were going to attend a retreat at Cove in Asheville, NC. I had been telling her all the wonderful things about the Cove and the encounter I had with the Lord when I visited the Chapel there. Just knowing what they will experience and seeing all the beauty on the ground at this event excited me. As I thought about what song to write about and her good news the words from her program echoed in my mind, Victory In Jesus, so I choose to look into why the song was written. I was surprised and inspired by the story behind the song and now have a new appreciation for it.

To understand the significance of the song and why those words hold such a powerful meaning, you will have to know a little bit about the author of the song, Eugene M. Bartlett Sr. Born in 1885 in Missouri he became a singer, music publisher, producer and of course a songwriter. Mr. Bartlett began his career as a publisher for the Central Music Company in Arkansas and later formed the Hartford Music Company in 1918 with a few friends. There he would publish his hymnals, periodicals, and magazines. Over time he became an profound songwriter, writing such songs as “Everybody Will Be Happy Over There”, “Just A Little While”, and “He Will Remember Me”, and he even had success in the country music field with a song by Little Jimmy Dickens called, “Take a Old Cold Tater and Wait”. I’ll trust that was a #1 hit.

Life could not have been better for Eugene. He married his sweetheart in 1917 and they raised 2 children. As a publisher his hymn book was in demand, selling over 15,000 copies across the county. He felt his calling was to publish hymns and teach aspiring singers how to sight-read so he traveled the south, holding singing school and singing conventions.
But in 1939 at age 53, his world changed drastically. Mr. Bartlett suffered a paralyzing stroke that left him unable to walk or even speak and for the most part, he was bedridden. Many felt the stroke ended his teaching ministry, yet It was during these dark days that Eugene would write his best-known hymn, Victory In Jesus. While looking back over his life he began to think back to the night he was born again and the rich life he had since that night. He picked up a pen and began what would become his best-known song. He began with the following words, “I heard an old, old story, How a Savior came from glory, how he gave his life on Calvary to save a wretch like me”. Realizing that the love of God had sustained him and brought him to where he was that day, he is quoted as saying he felt the prompting of the holy spirit to add another verse. He wrote, “I heard about his healing, of his saving power revealing, how he made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see”. When he completed the song, he looked back over it and seen it was a story of redeeming power from start to finish. He wanted the song to be joyous. And while written during the darkest period of his life he chose to make the melody full of happiness and enthusiasm.

Since he was no longer able to travel to minister or teach his son, Eugene Jr took over. He would travel around the south continuing his father’s ministry. One night, as the story goes, he had traveled to East Tx for a revival service. He had asked a well-known evangelist of the time to speak. The man did and gave a wonderful sermon but when the invitation was given no one came forward. Eugene, Jr. said he felt the Lord urging him to sing his Father’s new song which he had not sung publicly before. He did and as he sang many in attendance began to come forward to give their life to the Lord Jesus. At the end of the service over 50 men and women had accepted Christ as their savior.
I’m sure that during his time of suffering there were days where he felt depressed, alone and sad, yet he still found the inspiration to declare, “I cried, Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit and somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory’’. It’s amazing to me, that in the midst of all that was wrong in his life he found the courage to proclaim Jesus and the Victory he had in knowing Jesus was the answer and source of his joy. So often when we are going through a dark time in life we get focused on the problem or our circumstances and lose sight of what really matters, we lose our hope and our joy. But in midst of Eugene’s troubles, he found he could say there is Victory in Jesus, as we all should do. Mr. Bartlett, Sr passed away in 1941 from complications due to the stroke.
If there is one thing I want you to remember, it’s this. It is because of God’s Grace and Mercy each of us are where we are today and no matter what we face in life we can walk in Victory. We just have to choose to live for him.


When We All Get to Heaven: 756

Philadelphians Eliza E. Hewitt (1851-1920) and Emily D. Wilson (1865-1942) combined as poet and musician respectively to give us a gospel song that captures the revival spirit of the late nineteenth century in a uniquely American way.

Carlton R. Young correctly notes that this hymn should be situated in its “union of revivalism and adventism in much of post-Civil War Wesleyan preaching and worship” (Young, 699). Adventism was a product of the Second Great Awakening during the first half of the nineteenth century that peaked in the 1840s. Its proponent, William Miller (1782-1849), a Baptist preacher, espoused the belief that the second coming of Jesus Christ would take place sometime between 1843 and 1844. While that did not take place, the spirit of Adventism continued throughout the remainder of the century and was evident in many gospel songs of the era.

Many readers may have grown up singing this and other songs on a similar theme during Sunday school gatherings, Sunday evening services, or revivals. Related songs include “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder” (1899) by James M. Black (1856-1938), “Shall We Gather at the River” (1865) by Robert Lowry (1826-1899), and “O that Will Be Glory for Me” (1900) by Charles H. Gabriel (1856-1932). Make no mistake, hymns that addressed heaven were nothing new. Many eighteenth-century hymns by Charles Wesley and others referenced heaven as our ultimate destination. The nineteenth-century gospel song, however, added a spiritual fervor undergirded by a musical vitality that gave these songs a sense of imminence and urgency that had not been experienced heretofore.

The Methodists and Baptists were the dominant sources of these songs that were often included in collections geared for use in Sunday schools and revivals. Though aligned with the Presbyterians, Eliza Hewitt’s song was a product of revivals where the author “regularly attended the Methodist camp meetings” at Ocean Grove, New Jersey (Reynolds, 194, cited in Young, 699). These “seasonal and protracted meetings [were] typical of the Wesleyan campgrounds that were formed, some continuing from earlier in the century, to embody indoors the spirit of the camp meeting” (Young, 699). The “indoor” events were extensions of the rural camp meetings of the early nineteenth century, where the conditions were much more primitive. Tents were pitched, and roughhewn benches were placed to separate men from women. In these early nineteenth-century camp meetings, denominational particularities gave way to more inclusive ecclesial gatherings that included Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and even Quakers (Lorenz, 17-19). Even more astounding in the antebellum South was the participation of both African Americans and whites. As one account notes, “The blacks were the life of the camp meeting. Nine out of ten of them would have a melodious voice for singing and praying and shouting, at a great distance from the campground” (G. W. Henry, quoted in Lorenz, 31).

While the meetings at the end of the nineteenth century at Ocean Grove were under less primitive conditions, they were still rustic with simple huts and cottages replacing tents; they were also more domesticated, though the Spirit was still evident in ways that may not have been present or even permitted in the confines of mainline church sanctuaries on Sunday morning. Carlton Young describes the setting under which Eliza Hewitt composed this song.

Announcements & Closing Prayer

How Great Is Our God: Tom