Stories Behind 50 Southern Gospel Favorites (Volume 1) by Lindsey Terry is a collection of your favorite Southern Gospel songs and why they were written. As Terry interviews the songwriters, you will get to know the writers who are working behind the scenes creating great gospel music, and learn what inspired such lyrical treasures. Among these exciting short stories, you will be introduced to the two men who were saved from alcoholism and wrote Midnight Cry, you’ll learn from Phil Cross what inspired him to pen the popular ballad Champion Of Love, and discover the stories behind two of Dianne Wilkinson’s biggest hits…(and much more)!
Anyone who has spent any amount of time listening to Southern Gospel Music is bound to know the famous ballad, Midnight Cry, by heart. Though, what most may not know, is the interesting story behind both the song and the writers. Chuck and Greg Day were two brothers who were addicted to alcohol and drugs, but within one month, both came to know the Lord as their personal Savior and were delivered from their addictions. One day, the brothers paid a visit to their parents while Mom and Dad’s church was having a revival…the first sermon was titled “Midnight Cry.” That same day in their parent’s living room, Greg and Chuck wrote Midnight Cry – in thirty minutes. Greg would write a line, then Chuck would finish the thought with the next one – back and forth they went until the whole song was completed! The rest, as they say, is history! Gold City recorded Midnight Cry in 1987 and in 1988, the Singing News crowned it Song of the Year.
Champion Of Love is another song with an interesting background. Writer Phil Cross tells of his upbringing in Gospel Music (singing with his family), how he came to know the Lord while staying with his Grandma one night, and when he began writing songs at age twenty-three. The idea for Champion Of Love was born in the 1980’s with an advertisement for two world famous boxers, who both held records of being undefeated. The TV ads kept asking, “Who is the undisputed, undefeated, middle-weight champion of the world?” As Phil contemplated the question, his answer had nothing to do with the boxers, but with the “Champion of Love” Himself. Unlike Midnight Cry, Champion Of Love took six months to complete. The result? – One of the most loved and popular songs in Southern Gospel Music.
Dianne Wilkinson is one of those writers who keep pouring powerful songs into SGM. Songs like We Shall See Jesus and Boundless Love are now considered “standards” in the genre, and you can read the stories of those two specific songs in the this volume. In 1981, when Dianne was living in West Memphis, she began meditating on what it must have been like to be on the hillside when Jesus had the multitudes gathered around Him. Upon realizing that one day we, too, will have the opportunity to see Him just as they did, this ballad began to develop, and ended as one of the Cathedrals’ signature songs. Boundless Love, was penned in the 1970’s, and in 1987 it shot to #1 on the radio charts, giving Dianne her first number one song.
But that’s not all! There are more fascinating stories just like these ones in this book! I really enjoyed this book because the song selection was strictly Southern Gospel. In the world of sheet music, I’ve become frustrated to see songbooks advertised as Southern Gospel, but only containing hymns that I already have the music to in my hymnbook at home. In the same way, I sort of expected that with books that tell stories behind the songs. This one didn’t contain the same song selection as any other “hymn stories” collection – it truly was about songs in the Southern Gospel genre! Though there are hymns included (10 to be specific), the bulk of the narratives are from SGM’s own writers like: Mosie Lister, Dianne Wilkinson, Phil Cross, Squire Parsons, and more. If you are looking to learn a little bit more about SGM’s favorite songs, you will be satisfied with this collection!