opening song on my CD, Echoes From the Trail, is Hymn 128 from the
Cherokee Hymn Book, a song of baptism in the Cherokee lyrics. But first let me
tell you about the tune to which I sing it. The story is told by Sanford
Fillmore Bennett, who wrote the lyrics for the English version, In the Sweet
By and By (first published 1868).
Webster [Joseph P. Webster], like many musicians, was of an exceedingly nervous
and sensitive nature, and subject to periods of depression, in which he looked
upon the dark side of all things in life. I had learned his peculiarities so
well that on meeting him I could tell at a glance if he was melancholy, and had
found that I could rouse him up by giving him a new song to work on.
came into my place of of business (in Elkhorn, Wisconsin), walked down to the
stove, and turned his back on me without speaking. I was at my desk. Turning to
him, I said, 'Webster, what is the matter now?' 'It's no matter,' he replied,
'it will be all right by and by.' The idea of the hymn came to me like a flash
of sunlight, and I replied, 'The Sweet By and By! Why would not that make
a good hymn?' 'Maybe it would,' he said indifferently. Turning to my desk I
penned the words of the hymn as fast as I could write. I handed the words to
Webster. As he read his eyes kindled, and stepping to the desk he began writing
the notes. Taking his violin, he played the melody and then jotted down the
notes of the chorus. It was not over thirty minutes from the time I took my pen
to write the words before two friends with Webster and myself were singing the
Cherokee, the first verse of Hymn 128 tells of Jesus being baptized in the River
Jordan and how Jesus praised Jehovah as He rose from the water. It then asks us
to cleanse our hearts to have a place for Him to live. The final verse asks that
we be taught beautiful songs to play for Jesus.
chose this song to open my CD because I love the foot-stomping tempo. It's hard
not to have that rhythm touch you.
a sample of this song here: http://johnnykee.com/mp3_Files/Preview-Hymn128.mp3.
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