America's Hymns of Faith
- Monday, September 01, 2003
Eva: Ace, you really threw me some curve balls as I read this book. One in particular is this: Jesus Loves Me was taken from a novel. Do what?? <Grinning> Care to tell more?
Ace: "Say and Seal" was one of the best selling novels issued just before the Civil War, yet we have now all but forgotten it. That book is not even a footnote in literary history. Yet on a single page of that Anna B. Warner book she wrote a little poem that the novel's lead character shared with a dying child. That poem was then taken by the great songwriter William Bradbury and turned into the song we know as "Jesus Loves Me." It is a children's song now, but during the Civil War men from both the south and north sang it around campfires between battles. Imagine, a poem from an obscure novel is now the best-known children's song in the world!
Eva: I found it interesting that you chose "Amazing Grace" and "What a Friend We Have In Jesus" as your opening and closing entries. Was there a reason for this?
Ace: I love the fact that the book begins with a British song that was born on a slave ship headed to this country and ends with "What A Friend," a Canadian song that the American revival movement took around the world. We are a nation of immigrants and our history is made up of influences from every corner of the world, these two songs clearly display that. And while neither was born here, it was in America they had their greatest impact. We imported them, and then exported them back to the whole world. I think "What A Friend" is the best story in the book too. Yet, the reason they are first and last has only to do with the fact that Zondervan decided to post the stories in alphabetical order.
Eva: And here I thought it was something deliberate. Well then...let's be deliberate: Ace, would you close us in a short prayer...for our country...and for the songs that resonate within us all?
Ace: Dear Lord, it is often in songs where we find the words and emotions that not only inspire us, but spell out our faith and chase away our doubts and fears. Let the words and music which have inspired Americans for generations be heard again today, so that those in our cities and villages, as well as those serving this nation a half a world away, can find the strength that can guide them through each moment of each day. Finally, let us remember, as we find in the words of one of the songs in this book, that God does not ask for us to be anything we are not, rather he wants each of us just as we are. He can do wonders with all us if we approach him with that humble spirit and presence. Amen.
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and the recently released and highly anticipated Shadows of Light. She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.EvaMarieEverson.com
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