by Lindsay Terry
Song: "He Is Here"
Scripture: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" Matt. 18:18-22.
Although Kirk Talley's name is synonymous with Southern Gospel music, he has made a tremendous contribution to the genre that we call "praise and worship" music. In addition to the song which is the subject of this story, he has written in that vein, "Magnify Him" and "Triumphantly the Church Shall Rise." He is a singer, a songwriter, and a promoter of the contributions of other songwriters. He often appears on national television programs.
Talley's experiences are legendary, first as a member of a family singing group, The Talleys, then as first tenor with the Hoppers, the Cathedrals, the Trio, and as a soloist and songwriter. The major portion of his Christian influence will forever be his songwriting-the blending of a biblical message with a beautiful melody. When the voice of Kirk Talley is silent and still, his songs will live on in the hearts of Christians, as they continue to worship God using his musical creations.
Kirk was born into a musical home in Whitesburg, Tenn. He related to me in an interview, "My dad was a songleader and my brother was a pianist, so we sang. My dad taught me to sing first tenor before I could read. We sang locally at our little church, Shady Grove Free Will Baptist Church in Whitesburg."
Kirk came to know the Lord at age thirteen at his home church. He said, "After the preacher had given his sermon he gave an invitation for people to receive Christ. The Lord spoke to my heart and I knew I needed to walk the aisle and trust Christ as my Savior."
His songwriting abilities were manifested early. He wrote his first song, "When I See His Face," at age fifteen. Several groups recorded the song, including the Hoppers, the Dixie Melody Boys, and the Cathedral Quartet. Kirk has written approximately 200 songs.
I asked him to give me the story behind "He Is Here":
"In 1990 I had been in Nashville, Tennessee, for a week-long convention. A number of wonderful things happened that week that were very impressive to me. Then very early on Sunday morning, with the victories of the week still fresh in my mind, I began to drive toward a location in Georgia where I was to sing in the evening church service.
"As I made my way down the interstate, on that beautiful morning, I began talking to the Lord, thanking him for all that He had done, for the things I had learned the past week, and for the moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Suddenly a song began coming to me. I had trouble stopping in time to get all that the Lord was giving to me. I had to write very rapidly. It was all finished in about ten minutes.
"I stopped on the way at a church where a group of my friends were to sing in a morning service. Before the service started I gathered the group around me, at the piano, and said, I want you to hear something that I just wrote.' I played and sang the song for them. They loved it! I knew right then that it was a good song, but I had no idea that churches would soon pick it up and begin singing it.
"At that time I was singing with The Talleys, a group made up of Roger and Debra Talley, my brother and sister-in-law, and myself. We were about to make an album on the Word label. He Is Here' went on that album. That year, 1991, it won a Dove Award for Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year."
Since that time, the song has been placed in at least one major hymnal and has become a favorite of audiences all across the United States.
Kirk continues to crisscross the United States, singing his songs and occasionally writing a new one.
Reflection: Our lives would be much more content, more full, and victorious if we would keep it in mind that God really is here-all of the time.
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.