Hymn History: He Keeps Me Singing March 23, 2022

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He Keeps Me Singing

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. – Job 13:15

We are thrilled to share a series of brief accounts of how some of the great hymns of our faith were written. Each synopsis has been compiled through the research of Jerry Vargo and is shared by permission. It is our hope that these stories will be a help and encouragement to your Christian walk. This week we read the tragic story behind the stirring hymn, “He Keeps Me Singing.”

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The text and tune (called Sweetest Name) were composed by Luther Burgess Bridgers, who was born at Margaretsville, NC, on Feb. 14, 1884. Luther’s father conducted revival meetings until his death, often with his son assisting him.  Beginning to preach at the age of seventeen, Luther was educated at Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, from 1902 to 1906. There he met his wife Sarah Veatch.

Several years later, at the age of twenty six, he and his wife had three sons. Invitations to preach revivals were streaming in for this young evangelist. An invitation to preach a two week revival near Harrodsburg, Kentucky arrived at Luther’s mailbox and he accepted the invitation. This revival meeting was near the place where his wife’s parents lived.

When Luther’s wife found out about the invitation, she asked Luther if he would consider taking her and the boys along on the trip and letting them visit her parents while he travelled on to the nearby revival. Luther lived in Georgia and his in-laws did not get to see the boys often.

On the way to the revival, Luther stopped at his in-law’s home to drop off his wife and boys for the next two weeks. As he left to continue on to his revival meeting, Luther kissed his wife and boys and patted the oldest boy’s head and told him to help his mother with the younger boys.

The first week of the revival had great results.  People were converted and Christians strengthened and encouraged.  Near the middle of the second week of the revival in the middle of the night Luther heard knocking at the door of the place where he was staying.

When Luther answered the door, a policeman stood outside the door with his hat in his hand and asked, “are you Luther Bridgers?”

“Yes, I am”, said Luther

The policeman struggled with his words and said, “Sir, I don’t know how to tell you this, but your father and mother in-law’s house burned down tonight and your wife and three boys perished in the flames.”

Nothing could have prepared Luther to hear this news.  He was devastated and shocked.  In the days that wore on, Luther thought about quitting the ministry.  He was so grief-stricken that he thought he could not carry on preaching.

However, the gentle Holy Spirit started tugging at Luther’s heart.  After a period of time Luther received comfort and encouragement from the Lord to continue serving Him.

Luther wrote the words and the tune to his hymn He Keeps Me Singing shortly after this tragic event.

You can see Luther’s story in the words of the hymn:

Jesus will be with us in good times and bad:

There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
In all of life’s ebb and flow.

Referring to the tragedy of the fire:

All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain,

Referring to the Holy Spirit comforting him:

Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumb’ring chords again.

Jesus will be with us in trials:

Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
See His footprints all the way.

Many people asked Luther, “how did you keep on going for the Lord?”  He answers in his song:

Feasting on the riches of His grace,
Resting ’neath His shelt’ring wing,
Always looking on His smiling face,
That is why I shout and sing.

 

He Keeps Me Singing

1. There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
In all of life’s ebb and flow.

[Refrain] Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest Name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.

2. All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain,
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumb’ring chords again. [Refrain] 

3. Feasting on the riches of His grace,
Resting ’neath His shelt’ring wing,
Always looking on His smiling face,
That is why I shout and sing.[Refrain] 

4. Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
See His footprints all the way. [Refrain] 

5. Soon He’s coming back to welcome me,
Far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown,
I shall reign with Him on high. [Refrain] 

Luther Bridgers spent the remaining 38 years of his life as a preacher of the Gospel in spite of this tragedy.

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4 Comments

  1. Israelee on March 24, 2022 at 12:45 AM

    All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
    Discord filled my heart with pain,
    Jesus swept across the broken strings,
    Stirred the slumb’ring chords again.

    • scottpauley on March 26, 2022 at 7:50 AM

      Amen.

  2. Myra Hall on April 28, 2022 at 12:59 PM

    I have always liked this song, but why and how it was written fills my heart. The work of the Holy Spirit never ceases to amaze me. ” the gentle Holy Spirit started tugging “, pray for me that the Holy Spirit only has to tug gently at my heart for me to follow.
    ” There’s within my heart a melody
    Jesus whispers sweet and low”
    In the darkest of hours, HE is there guiding and reassuring that there brighter days ahead. If not on earth, then in eternity.
    “Enjoying the Journey” Bless you, Dr Scott

    • scottpauley on May 3, 2022 at 9:39 AM

      So happy to hear it. God bless.

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