Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday songs

I have always loved this song.  I can imagine being in that little valley, sitting on a pew inside that little church, a warm ray of sunshine beaming thru a small window, feeling joyful and peaceful and thankful, and singing ‘oh, come, come, come, come...’.
*(Below is the history behind the hymn: Little Brown Church in the Vale, as told by its composer, William S Pitts)
Little Brown Church in the Vale
William S Pitts (1857)

There's a church in the valley by the wildwood
No lovelier spot in the dale
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale

(Oh, come, come, come, come)
Come to the church by the wildwood
Oh, come to the church in the vale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale

How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning
To listen to the clear ringing bells
Its tones so sweetly are calling
Oh come to the church in the vale

There, close by the church in the valley
Lies one that I loved so well
She sleeps, sweetly sleeps, 'neath the willow
Disturb not her rest in the vale

There, close by the side of that loved one
'Neath the tree where the wild flowers bloom
When farewell hymns shall be chanted
I shall rest by her side in the tomb.
*One bright af­ter­noon of a day in June 1857, I first set foot in old Brad­ford, Io­wa, com­ing by stage from Mc­Greg­or. My home was in Wis­con­sin. The spot where the “Lit­tle Brown Church” now stands was a set­ting of rare beau­ty. There was no church there but the spot was there wait­ing for it. When back in my home I wrote the song ‘The Lit­tle Brown Church in the Vale.’ I put the man­u­script away. In the spring of 1862 I re­turned to Io­wa and set­tled at Fred­er­icks­burg…

In the years of 1859 and 1860 the good peo­ple of Brad­ford were de­ter­mined to build a church…By the ear­ly win­ter of 1864 the build­ing was rea­dy for ded­i­ca­tion. While I was hold­ing the sing­ing school, near its close in the spring, the class went one ev­en­ing to the church. It was not then seat­ed, but rude seats were im­pro­vised. My man­u­script of the song I had brought with me from Wis­con­sin. It had ne­ver been sung be­fore by an­y­one but my­self. I sang it there. Soon af­ter­wards I took the man­u­script to Chi­cago [Ill­i­nois], where it was pub­lished by H. M. Hig­gins. It won a speedy re­cog­ni­tion lo­cal­ly and with the years won its way in­to the hearts of the peo­ple of the world.

Soon after its pub­li­ca­tion, the church at Brad­ford, which had been paint­ed brown (for want of mo­ney to buy bet­ter paint, some say), be­came known as “The Lit­tle Brown Church in the Vale.” My hope is that it will stand for a thou­sand years and call the old man and his de­scend­ants to wor­ship.

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