Sunday, July 20, 2008


My remembrance of Rudiment Teachers

My family and background was of humble beginning with caring parents who attempted to direct my sister and me into things that would better us.

At times I wondered what would be the advantage or significance of some of those things. One such thing was attending gospel music rudiment schools that were conducted every year in our little church. Little did I know that the likes of some of these men would become famous as time would reward them.
Some of those rudiment teachers were men such as O.S. Sawrie, R. H. McNew, but those most known were Marvin P. Dalton who wrote two songs that today have filled churches throughout the country; namely, “O, What a Savior” and “Looking for a City.” Another was Luther G. Presley of Pangburn, Arkansas. No one would have dreamed that a local with Virgil O. Stamps would compose a famous melody in 1937 when Luther G. Presley penned the immortal lyrics at his rural Arkansas home in White County that would be sung around the English speaking world. Today anyone can sing a few lines of "When the Saints Go Marching In," or hum a few bars of the melody. Neither composer had the foggiest notion that their rousing, inspiring religious song would become a Dixieland standard - and later, the theme song of the New Orleans Saints football team. He received $5.00 for his lyrics, but that was only the beginning of royalty checks that have produced a good income continuing to this day.
A 1944 article in the Arkansas Democrat described Luther Presley as the state's most prolific songwriter. He composed the music or wrote the lyrics to hundreds of gospel songs - 1,500 or more.
His collection is now in the University of Central Arkansas where his daughter-in-law Cloie Presley, a county historian, was educated when the institution was still called Arkansas State Teachers College.
Leister Presley says his father also edited the gospel hit "The Great Speckled Bird," made famous by Roy Acuff at the Grand Ole Opry.
Luther Presley was born March 6, 1887, on Beckett Mountain in Faulkner County, five miles west of Rose Bud. He grew up with religious music at a Free Will Baptist church. At 14 he attended his first music school and began directing the church choir. He wrote his first song, "Gladly Sing," when he was 17.
A historical record from that church concerning a gospel meeting said of Mr. Presley. “Singer and well-known music composer Luther G. Presley conducted many of the song services during this session with such force that it touched the hearts and lives of all present. Preaching and singing held the congregation spellbound for three hours.”
Luther Presley's most famous song may have been "When the Saints Go Marching In," says Leister Presley, but his dad's favorite song was "I'd Rather Have Jesus" - composed after he had studied the parable of the rich man in the 12th chapter of Luke.
Besides Mr. Presley, I remember well the last teacher I will recall. He was Albert E. Brumley who wrote over 800 gospel and sentimental songs; Gospel Music Association named Mr. Brumley as one of only five persons in the United States whose contributions directly affected 20th century music; Brumley songs have been estimated to have been printed 15 million times in sheet music and songbooks; Brumley songs emulate country settings, ordinary country religion, simplicity and values--simplicity and naturalness was his music motto and philosophy. The Smithsonian Institute made a study of gospel music; researchers called Albert Brumley “the greatest white gospel songwriter before W.W.II.” Brumley music has been heard on practically every TV musical entertainment."

His education was little and his occupations consisted of being a cotton farmer,
piano tuner, singing school teacher, grocery store clerk, but became the author of I'll Fly Away which was published in 1932. In 1976 he received a trophy for "I'll Fly Away" as recognition of the song being the most recorded gospel song in history. In 1972 he was inducted into the SESAC Hall of Fame

He penned many other songs such as; Turn Your Radio On, I'll Meet You in the Morning, Jesus, Hold My Hand, If We Never Meet Again, I'm Bound For That City, I'd Rather Be An Old Time Christian, to name only a few that were recorded by the Chuck Wagon Gang, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Boston Pops Orchestra, Ray Stevens, Osborne Bros., Elvis Presley, Bill Monroe and countless others.

The history of this part of my past has been only a refection of my present – and the mirror of the future. The disdain I may have had as a teen is now a delight of what it influenced.

I did not realize at the time that these men were not only giving me something to live with, but they also gave me something to die with.

The third verse of Marvin Dalton’s famous song; “O What a Savior” says is best:

Death's chilly waters....I'll soon be crossing....
His hand will lead me safe o're..
I'll join the that great city......
And sing up there forever more......

The Chorus:
O what a Savior....O hallelujah.....
His heart was broken on Calvary.....
His hands were nail scarred.......
His side was riven.....
He gave His life-blood for even me.....

And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. -- Psalm 40:3

No comments: