Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lift Up Your Eyes

I recently learned that a long-time family friend, Pastor Clyde Nichols, is working on a new book of daily Christian devotions.  The name of the book is "Lift Up Your Eyes".  Pastor Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, Texas, where he served as senior minister for 23 years from 1963 to 1986.  He is a graduate of Texas Christian University and Brite Divinity School.  He severed as an associate pastor at LaPorte (TX) Community Church during the 1990s.  My husband and I came to know Pastor Nichols very well during those years.  On November 21, 1991, Pastor Nichols performed the marriage ceremony for Dean and I.  On October 16, 1992, Pastor Nichols was by my side when I was rushed into emergency surgery after I was seriously injured by a drunk driver.  In 1993, Dean and I were baptized by Pastor Nichols at LaPorte Community Church. He was everything you could ask for in a pastor...he was with us during joy and sorrow.
Pastor Nichols' Christian devotions have been published in local newspapers for many years.  I am delighted to learn that his wisdom and inspiration will now be published in a book.  Here is a sample of the material that will be in the book.

Thomas A. Dorsey, often called the Father of Gospel Music, was born in Villa Rica, Georgia in 1899. His father was a Baptist minister, and his mother played the organ and piano wherever her husband preached.
Thomas quit school early and was soon hanging around theaters and dance halls. Musicians there encouraged him to practice at home on his mother’s piano. He did, and by the age of 12 was earning money playing at parties and private get-togethers.
He moved to Chicago, and in 1920 was married to Nettie Harper, but the demanding schedule of playing at night, working at other jobs during the day and studying in between, led to a nervous breakdown. He was unable to work for two years. In order to survive, Nettie took a job in a laundry to support them.
His uncle encouraged him to attend the National Baptist Convention. There he was impressed by the singing of W. M. Nix. He soon began composing sacred songs and was hired music director at Chicago’s Pilgrim Baptist Church, a position he held for nearly 40 years.
In 1932 they were living on Chicago’s South Side, and he and Nettie were expecting their first child. Thomas was scheduled to be the featured soloist for a revival in St. Louis. The second night, as he finished his solo, a Western Union messenger brought the news that Nettie had died along with their new born son.
He managed to get through the funeral service, but when it was over, he withdrew from his family, his friends, and even his beloved music. In despair, he sat one evening at the piano idly running over the keys when suddenly he felt at peace and found himself playing a melody he had not heard or played before. The words for it came into his head—just seemed to fall in place. What has been called “the greatest gospel song of all time” was born. People around the world know it, sing it, and love it because of its profound message of hope and faith.

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, help me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light,
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

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