Some Songs Never Go Away

Remembering Old Songs

Isn’t amazing the way songs get planted in your brain and can come back when you least expect them?

I have a friend who is a walking compendium of rock music from the ‘60’s-‘70’s.  Mention a musician or a song and he will recite the words back to you with amazing perfection.

Songs – the kind that are really worth singing – are like that.  Once they get imbedded in your brain, you never know when you might suddenly remember them.

Watching the sun rise over the lake the other morning, the words (at least most of them) of a hymn I had memorized as a requirement for a class on worship in seminary came rolling back into my mind.  It was written by Thomas Ken (1637 – 1711) to help the boys in his British boarding school get started on the day. I can’t imagine that they were all that enthusiastic about it!

 Awake, my soul, and with the sun

Thy daily stage of duty run;

Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,

To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;

Disperse my sins as morning dew.

Guard my first springs of thought and will,

And with Thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,

All I design, or do, or say,

That all my powers, with all their might,

 In Thy sole glory may unite.

When I Googled it to be sure my memory was correct, I discovered that Ken’s 18th Century words have been set to new music by more than one contemporary Christian musician.  It just proves that a good song never really goes away.

I hadn’t thought of those words for years, but I remembered that memorizing them turned out to be more than just a class requirement.  They actually became a morning prayer for me as I walked from our apartment to the campus.

That last verse is just about as all-inclusive as you can get:  direct…control…suggest…all I design…or do…or say.   A prayer like that never goes out of date and could make a real difference in anyone’s life.

Life Interrupted 

Our new life on the lake was interrupted last week with an overnight visit to Tampa General Hospital to deal with a nasty kidney stone.  It was an interesting role reversal for me to be the patient instead of the pastor, riding down the halls in a wheel chair rather than walking down them, being cared for instead of being the one doing the caring, instead of feeling like “someone” with a clergy badge to feel like “anyone” who shows up needing help.

The good news is that I could not have received better care and am doing fine.  I hit the road this week leading a clergy retreat in Baton Rouge and some workshops for church business administrators in Orlando before Marsha and I head to Charleston for some Gamma/Gampa time with Mattie.  I think that’s why we retired!

Wherever your travels take you this summer, I also remember Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans singing, “Happy Trails to You.”  Some old songs never really go away.

Grace and peace,


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6 thoughts on “Some Songs Never Go Away

  1. How refreshing! What a way to begin my days along with Psa. 143:8, my steadfast morning scripture. Thanks. Now, I well recall “Happy Trails To You”;maybe a new morning tune! Miss you both so much, but I’m wishing you Happy Grandparenting Trails as well as good health.

    . Love, Judie

  2. Thank you for the good report, Jim. We’re glad you are feeling good again.

    If you like Mediterranean cuisine and have the opportunity, we recommend Kay’s and Bill’s favorite Mediterranean restaurant in Baton Rouge, Serop’s, on Corporate Blvd. We also loved our meal at Gino’s (Italian, of course).

    Love, grace and peace to you and Marsha.

    Tom and Andrea

    1. Tom:
      Thanks for the recommendation. Unfortunately, I’m landing in BR and driving on to a retreat center about an hour away. Enjoying the cuisine will have to await another time!

  3. I thought for sure you were going to pull out Otis Redding – “sitting on the dock of the bay” “sitting in the morning sun” “sittin here resting my bones” of course, the rest of the song probably wouldn’t have worked very well. -Brad.

  4. Hi Jim, It has been 16 months since David and I left Tampa to return to Sydney. I have continued to follow HPUMC and your journey towards retirement and look forward to keeping in touch through your posts. David and I have been through the ups and downs of settling back into life in Sydney after a wonderful 3 years in Tampa. Our time there will always hold very special memories. Since returning we have enjoyed some amazing travel journeys…..Mont Blanc (trekking), Nepal for 7 weeks trekking and volunteering and we are now in the Australian outback on a 4 x 4 safari with 3 other couples. I love being out ‘in the wild’….it connects me. The peace, tranquility and beauty restore my spirit and I see God all around. I have a request……I have a friend whose 22 year old son was killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight shot down over the Ukraine. It is a tragedy I cannot comprehend. I remember you shared a post, ( my memory is a bit sketchy of the details) probably in 2012, of a pastor whose teenage son was killed in a car accident when it was driven into a river in a storm. I remember the pastors beautiful writing and his words describing the devastating death and the hope he had in Christ. I am hoping you could send me a link to or an attachment so I could read it again and see if it might be some comfort to my friend. I hope you and Marsha are well and continue to enjoy this very special time. Love Jane Radcliff

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Jane:
      Thanks for the update. It was a joy to have you at Hyde Park. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. What a terrible, incomprehensible tragedy! The sermon I referred to was by William Sloane Coffin follow the death of his son. It’s a powerful witness. You can find it at In situations like this, I also recommend “Letters to Marc About Jesus” by Henri Nouwen. He has a beautiful chapter about how Christ shares our suffering.

      Please know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers.


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