This ‘n’ that

By Jack Swift

As I was working on my last column, it occurred to me that some information about the origin of and information about some other great hymns might be of interest to some folks. Christmas carols were my main focus then but in this column I want to feature information about a few regular hymns that I came up with.
As a young person growing up in the Church, I often was asked to lead the choir or the congregation in song. With limited talent but a willingness to help, I did that over a span of time. Of course during that time my hearing was good but it is now very bad. But the experience as song leader afforded me the opportunity to familiarize myself with several songs and hymns. Hence, here are a few that I liked a lot.
“Lead Me To Calvary,” is a hymn that I enjoyed singing as well as hearing sung. Unfortunately, not much is known about that hymn. A lady named Jennie Hussey is thought to have written it. She lived throughout her life in a rural area of New Hampshire. During her life she care of her invalid sister. Reportedly she was a fourth- generation Quaker. She was a cheerful and positive person and it shows in the writing of this hymn.
Another favorite hymn of mine is “Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone?” It was written by Thomas Shepherd. It came about as Shepherd was preparing a sermon on Simon Peter. He couldn’t find many hymns on Peter, so he decided to write a hymn about Peter. Originally, the first line of his hymn was “Shall Simon Bear the Cross Alone?” That line was later changed to
“Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone.”
O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee.” Is another of my favorite hymns? Washington Gladden, a former newspaperman before going into the ministry, believed that Christians should be involved in the world’s problems and he was outspoken about his views. He wrote the hymn in 1879.
Who doesn’t remember that old song, “Shall We Gather At The River?” That hymn was written in the summer of 1864. An epidemic was sweeping New York and the heat was terrible. He was faced with how to deal with the fact that many of his church members had died and many were near death. He felt he had to keep on comforting people and he wrote this song to serve as a comfort for them.
Just thinking about those great hymns brings back memories. I think the old songs have stood the test of time and we should be hearing more of them.