A Song for the Old-Timers

by Lindsay Terry

Lindsay Terry

Song: "I'm Glad I Know Who Jesus Is"

Scripture: "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim. 1:12).I have interviewed many songwriters who, at times, didn't think a great deal of the song they had just written. Many of them have come to realize that the Lord is the one who raises up a song and causes it to bless the hearts of Christians. Such was the song in this story:

Geron Davis was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, in 1960, into the home of Pastor Gerald and Patricia Davis. While still a very young child Geron taught himself to play the piano. He would listen to recordings of his favorite singers; groups such as the Happy Goodman Family, the Rambos, or Southern Gospel quartets whose arrangements were done by Lari Goss, and try to pick out their harmonies. Lari, composer of masterful "Cornerstone," was greatly influential in the life of young Davis.

"I was raised around music," Geron said. "My mom played piano, my dad played the guitar, and they sang together. I often sang with them, even at ages four and five. They would stand me on a piano bench behind the pulpit and I would sing the melody while mom sang alto, dad sang tenor and played his guitar. I started making up songs as a small child, simple choruses that we would sing in Sunday school. I would often sit at the piano and try to pick out tunes. During those day I was listening to a lot of music."

Geron met his wife Becky at college in 1981. Since their marriage they have written and recorded numerous songs, individually and collectively, and have been recording and performing together for more than twenty years. They are also known for their outstanding choral workshops, and have ministered with choirs from Christ Church, Brooklyn Tabernacle, and Prestonwood Baptist Church, just to name a few. Numerous major publishing companies have distributed their music.

In an interview I asked Geron to tell me the story behind the writing of "I'm Glad I Know Who Jesus Is." Here is what he told me:

"I was serving as minister of music in a large church in Alexandria, Louisiana, a church of about 2,500 members with a choir of approximately 150 voices. We were making plans for our 1990 Christmas musical, a time when many people from the community would come in and enjoy the Christmas music with us.

"I had an older group of singers in the choir, a quartet of very experienced people who were loved by all the senior adults, and whom I wanted to present in some manner during the program. We called them the Oldtimers Quartet. In this particular program I wanted their song to have a Southern Gospel flavor, because in that part of Louisiana you have air to breathe, food to eat, and Southern Gospel Music to listen to. Those were the staples of life.

"I wanted the Oldtimers Quartet to do something original, never heard before, and so I sat down and wrote "I'm Glad I Know Who Jesus Is." I literally wrote the song in fifteen minutes. I taught it to them that evening and they loved it! When they sang it during the musical, the people loved it! I really didn't know what to think of the song myself, because the Oldtimers Quartet could sing out of the phone book and people would love it."

"A month or so later, the Nelons, good friends of mine, called me and asked if I had any songs that I thought they might be interested in. Along with the producer, Lari Goss, they were searching for new songs to put into an upcoming project. I said, So I sat down at the piano and recorded four songs to send to them. The last song I put on the tape, I almost didn't include-"I'm Glad I Know Who Jesus Is." And then, I thought, That song has a Southern feel, and they might like it, so I stuck it onto the tape."

"They recorded the song and put it on their new album. They "singled' two or three songs from the album and sent them to radio stations, but not "I'm Glad I Know Who Jesus Is." Some time later they recorded another album and tried in the same manner to get some reaction from stations. But, a funny thing happened: the stations went back to the former album and began to play "I'm Glad I Know Who Jesus Is." The response was so great the radio stations contacted the record company and the Nelons and said, We love "I'm Glad I Know Who Jesus Is." We're getting a large number of requests for it. After hearing that, the record company went back to the former album and released my song as a single. It soon went to #1 with the radio stations and was #1 on the Singing News Charts."

Reflection: The goal of every Christian should be to get to know our Savior, in all of His love and mercy. We should realize afresh each morning who Jesus really is, draw close to His heart, and all through the day never wander further than His fingertips.

Lindsay Terry has been a song historian for more than 40 years, being published
in a number of publications, including Pulpit Helps. He has also written
some 34 books and church training manuals.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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