Behind the Music

Don’t you love it when you hear the story behind a good song? I realize that there are some songs that were just hammered out, or written against a tight deadline with little or no thought to what was being written. Even songwriting giants have resorted to it from time to time. “She love you yeah yeah yeah” comes to mind. But when a song has a narrative that cuts you to the quick, and you find out that the writer wrote that because he/she experienced it, that’s pretty awesome.

Recently I was reading about a famous songwriter from a long time ago. He was good, too, having written hundreds of songs, most of them popular, and all of them profitable. Lowell Mason was his name. Most people don’t know that name today, but in the nineteenth century, it was a household name. As talented as he was musically, he had a debilitating speech impediment–a lisp which had developed into a stutter. It was embarrassing to him, and the fact that people teased him mercilessly didn’t help. As a child he was bullied, as a teenager he was beaten up, and as an adult he was ostracized. Maybe that’s why he was so successful with music—it provided an outlet for the hurt he felt.

Eventually Lowell Mason found peace in his life when became a Christian. Through his new found faith, he began to experience joy and purpose like never before. His songwriting was still popular, but his lyrics contained a new element—joy, peace, hope. Don Henley once said that the true test of a songwriter’s talent is how long the music lasts. If this is true (and I believe it is), then Lowell Mason was exemplary. Not all his songs have stood the test of time, but one of them is still sung with remarkable frequency: “There is a Fountain” has been included in most every hymnal published in the last hundred years. It was even sung on an episode of the Andy Griffith Show! In most of those hymn books, there are four verses:

Verse 1: There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

Verse 2: the dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.

Verse 3: Ever since by faith I saw the stream your flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been my theme and will be till I die.

Verse 4: Dear dying lamb, your precious blood will never lose its power, till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more.

GREAT WORDS! I still get goose bumps when I read them.

BUT–did you know that there was a fifth verse to this hymn? It has been left out of most hymnals, perhaps because the words only make sense if you happen to know about Mason’s crippling speech impediments, and the pain and sadness it had caused him. Check it out:

Verse 5: When this poor, lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave, then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Your power to save. I’ll sing Your power to save, I’ll sing Your power to save! Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I will sing Your power to save!

This morning, Lowell Mason is singing a more sweet and noble song, only the stutter which caused him so much shame is forever gone. Moreover, his only audience is the one who was the subject of so many of his songs, the one from whom all blessings flow.

I can’t wait.

Published by jasonk5322

I'm a teacher, historian, pastor, cyclist, and guitarist. I've been waging a sometimes-noble battle against MS. I love Jesus, and am amazed that He loves me back.

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