Where Did They Come From?

By Keith Pruitt

In 1886, Edward Smith Ufford was looking at the waves pound an old hulk of a ship. He began to think of those who possibly drowned when the ship sank. He changed it into a spiritual message and titled it, “Throw Out The Life Line.” The song tells how Christ has thrown all sinners a life-line and that we, as Christians, extend that life-line when we tell someone about Christ. Thus, the song is encouraging Christians to throw the life-line and help save someone.

Elizabeth Payson Prentiss wrote many poems which were made into hymnal-style songs; but, unfortunately only one of those songs still lives today. That song was written at first in 1853, but not finished; it was shelved. Then 13 years later in 1869, she was urged by her husband to complete the words. It told of her desire to have an increasing love for Christ. She said, “This all my prayer shall be.” The song is “More Love To Thee, O Christ.”

In 1870, William Howard Doane asked Lydia Baxter to write a song; but Mrs. Baxter was such a busy person. She spent much of her time counseling people. Mrs. Baxter was an invalid and thus was very courageous in just continuing to battle. At the age of 61, she wrote the song Doane had requested. The title was, “Take The Name Of Jesus With You.” The song relayed the message of companionship with Christ. It also told of the blessings one has by holding to Christ.

“God Will Take Care Of You” was written by Mrs. C.D. Martin, as she signed her maiden initials, in 1904. Mrs. Martin was sick, and her husband was thinking of canceling a preaching engagement due to her illness. But as Mr. Martin picked up the receiver to cancel the engagement, their nine-year old son asked, “Won’t God take care of mother while you’re gone’?” Thus the song had its beginning. The meaning rings through clear: God will take care of us!

“I Love To Tell The Story” was written by a bed-ridden lady named Catherine (Kate) Arabelle Hankey. Miss Hankey had written this song, originally titled “The Story Told,” in 1886. The poem was read at a Y.M.C.A. convention in Montreal in 1867. There several people began writing music for it. The song has a deep conviction of praise for Christ and tells of the love this young lady for telling others about Christ.

A cotton patch worker rarely comes up with a song as beautiful as “Jesus, Hold My Hand” that is, unless he is Albert E. Brumley. In 1933, Mr. Brumley wrote this song telling about the wonderful relationship that we can have with Christ.

In 1886, Dr. Robert Lowry wrote the words and music of “Christ Arose.” Although Lowry never cared much for the songs he had written, the message of these songs still impress the minds of all that sing them. In “Christ Arose,” Lowry emphasized the point that the grave could not hold our blessed Savior.

Fanny Crosby has been responsible for writing many songs. Perhaps one of the greatest was written by her in 1873. The song is called, “Blessed Assurance.” The song tells of the great assurance we have in Christ. Fanny Crosby was relaying the message of her story and her song about how Christ had blessed her. (Even though Fanny Crosby was practically blind, she felt very blessed.) Today the song reminds us of the freedom from sin and the other blessings we can and do have through our Savior.

Immediately following the Civil War many of the Negroes began to build small buildings in which to worship God. In these buildings they would take a Biblical reference and turn it into a Spiritual song. Although we do not know the author, the date; nor the place where “Roll, Jordan Roll” was written, we do know that it was one of the most sung and liked songs in American life. The song tells of the longing they had to “see Jordan roll.” In other words, they were looking forward to the time when they would be with Christ.

Truth Magazine XXII: 15, pp. 252-253
April 13, 1978