A couple of weeks ago, my pastor asked us to sing "Softly and Tenderly" to compliment her sermon. Almost every Sunday, I arrange an old hymn off the top of my head by improvising arrangements for the singers and I play the keyboard. The arrangement is usually sung at the offertory.
I enjoy the challenges each week because I never know who will be there, or what hymn I will be arranging. I really don't mind because I like finding a way to make music with what and whom I am given.
"Softly and Tenderly" is a very old hymn, written in 1880 by Will L. Thompson, published in collection called Sparkling Gems, Nos. 1 and 2, by J. Calvin Bushey (Chicago, Illinois: Will L. Thompson & Company)
Whenever I create a particularly successful arrangement, I am always tempted to write it down. Alas ... for many years, I have not, until this week ... and so today, I deliver "Softly and Tenderly" to my "List of Works".
From several sites, I have gathered information about both the hymn and the composer. Will Thompson was a prolific composer and wrote many gospel hymns. "Softly and Tenderly" has lived for over 100 years and some of the interesting facts include:
In 1968, it was performed at a memorial service for American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia. More recently in 1985, it was used in the Academy Award winning movie Trip to Bountiful .
It's a great feeling to complete something like this ... because this hymn, and my attempts to preserve it another way, now makes me a part of its history. It's been a good day!