Blind Willie Johnson

Added on by Craig Stewart.

Blind Willie Johnson was an American gospel blues singer, guitarist and evangelist. His landmark recordings included thirty songs from only five recording sessions completed between 1927 and 1930. Johnson was known for his powerful ‘chest voice’ singing and masterful slide guitar skills.

Throughout his life Johnson was able to combine the gospel and blues into original music which elevated him to legendary status among other musicians like Eric Clapton. Some of Johnson’s gospel blues included “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” “Church, I’m Fully Saved Today,” “Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed,” “I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole,” and “Praise God I’m Satisfied.” His records sold well, but as a street performer and preacher he had little wealth in his lifetime.

Of the many biblical references for Johnson’s “Let Your Light Shine On Me,” perhaps my favorite comes from the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6 — For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Sacred Songs

Added on by Craig Stewart.

The Foggy Mountain Boys were an American bluegrass band. The band was founded by guitarist Lester Flatt and banjo player Earl Scruggs. They are largely viewed by music historians as one of the premier bluegrass groups in their genre. The band was originally formed in 1948 by Flatt, who had been a member of Bill Monroe’s bluegrass band. Flatt brought Scruggs with him shortly after leaving Monroe.

“You Can Feel It In Your Soul” was released by the Foggy Mountain Boys band on their “Sacred Songs” album in 1967. Its meaning is as straightforward as the song title. As a listener on the corresponding YouTube video once said, ”You really CAN feel it in your soul. That’s how I knew I was a believer, even though I was not brought up going to church. This song is beautiful, isn’t it? Just beautiful!”

Let all the believers say Amen!

  © Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.  Sources:  Wikipedia  +  YouTube

© Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.

Sources: Wikipedia + YouTube

The Bread of Life

Added on by Craig Stewart.

After joining Mercy Sisters in Burlingame as a choral teacher at Mercy High School, Sister Suzanne Toolan wrote a popular hope-filled hymn entitled “I Am the Bread of Life,” in 1966. It has been translated into 25 languages and performed in congregations around the world to this day. 

Suzanne recalls how it began, “I was teaching high school at the time and wrote the song during my free period.  When the bell rang for the next class I decided I didn’t like the music, so I tore it up and threw it in the wastepaper basket.

My classroom was next to the infirmary, where the girls who didn’t want to take tests or were otherwise unprepared for class went for a period or two until they were tracked down by an exasperated teacher. As I left my classroom, a freshman girl came out of the infirmary and said, “What was that?  It was beautiful!” I went back into my classroom, took the manuscript out of the basket and taped it together. It has had a life of its own ever since.

I could never figure out how the hymn became popular. I know in our Roman Catholic tradition it came at the beginning of our use of the vernacular, and we simply didn’t have much to sing in our own language. But I also think its popularity stems from its message of resurrection, which is so strong in these words of Jesus. We so need that message of hope. I am always touched when people tell me that at the funeral of a mother, father or friend, these sung words of Jesus gave them consolation. Then I know the hymn has done its work.”

  © Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.  Source:  Sisters of Mercy

© Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.

Source: Sisters of Mercy


Added on by Craig Stewart.

In 1818, a Catholic priest named Joseph Mohr was distraught over the church organ not working before a Christmas Eve service in the Austrian Alps. As problematic to his evening’s regular midnight service as it seemed, it provided him an opportunity to create one of the most beloved Christmas hymns we still sing today.

That's when Joseph began to pen the words to “Silent Night.” After finishing, he handed them to Franz Gruber his organist. Upon reading the lyrics, Franz replied, “You have found it — the right song — God be praised!” Quickly, Franz composed a simple tune for a single guitar accompaniment.

Hearing about this near Christmas eve service disaster, the organ repairman on call asked for a copy of the song. Immediately he began sharing it with others. Touring groups soon started singing it in concerts, helping to spread the hymn’s popularity. Later it was used by German speaking congregations in America. “Silent Night” first appeared as the current English translation in a book of Sunday school songs in 1863.

Building on Sand

Added on by Craig Stewart.

This bluegrass gospel song was released on the album, “Flatt and Scruggs Foggy Mountain Gospel” and preformed by the legendary guitarist Lester Flatt and his landmark banjo player Earl Scruggs.

Lyrically “Building on Sand” is based on scripture from Matthew 7:24–27 — “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

  © Helpful Creative  Sources:  Wikipedia  +  Daniel Apodaca  +  Nile

© Helpful Creative

Sources: Wikipedia + Daniel Apodaca + Nile

Why the Crucifixion?

Added on by Craig Stewart.

“Why” is a modern day parable of Christ’s crucifixion. Eloquently written and preformed by Nichole Nordeman, with its multi-layered viewpoints coming from each of three main characters; a young girl, followed by Jesus and then the Father.

Within this parable, Nichole paints one of single best answers anyone will ever give you for Jesus crying out with a loud voice from the cross, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” — Matthew 27:46.

  © Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.  Source:  The Crucifixion by Antoine Coypel (French, 1661 - 1722)

© Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.

Source: The Crucifixion by Antoine Coypel (French, 1661 - 1722)

Happy Day

Added on by Craig Stewart.

“Oh, happy day
When Jesus washed my sins away.”

Edwin Hawkins is an American gospel musician, pianist, choirmaster, composer, and arranger. He is also one of the originators of the urban contemporary gospel sound. As a child, Hawkins first remembered hearing this old-time Baptist hymn while listening to the Philadelphia-based gospel group The Davis Sisters. Hawkins would later rearrange and teach it to the Northern California State Youth Choir. “Oh Happy Day” would go on to earn a Grammy in 1969, reaching the U.S. top five recordings that same year.

The legendary Ray Charles preformed this Hawkins’ classic live, along with The Voices of Jubilation Choir in 2003. If you want to hear the perfect pairing of a soulful lead singer with powerful backing choir, this is it!

  © Helpful Creative  Sources:  Gospel Gal  +  ONWALLHD

© Helpful Creative

Sources: Gospel Gal + ONWALLHD

The Rising

Added on by Craig Stewart.

“The Rising” was released in 2002 as the title track from Bruce Springsteen’s 12th studio album. Springsteen wrote the song and the body of work on the album as a reaction to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. These attacks caused the death of 2,996 people and injured over 6,000 others. The critical response to the single included a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

The song tells the story of a firefighter, as he goes into one of the most desperate events in American history. It begins with the start of his day, the tools of his profession and the Cross of Saint Florian. It closes with a series of final visions: his wife, his children, and all human experience:

Sky of blackness and sorrow (dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness (dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear (dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow (dream of life)

This day I thank God for everyone who is called to rescue and protect anyone in need. And most of all, I’m eternally thankful for Jesus Christ, the one God sent to rescue all who would call upon His name (Romans 10:13).

Lauryn Hill

Added on by Craig Stewart.

Like the Joni Mitchell song “Love,“ Lauryn Hill wrote and performed a bonus song entitled “Tell Him,” from her 1998 Grammy award winning album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” It’s a gorgeous R&B version of her interpretation about one of the clearest descriptions of love in biblical scriptures, the apostle Paul’s 1 Corinthians 13.

Whether you believe she sings a prayer of love to her man, her child or her Savior, the merciful clarity of Lauryn’s lyrics are an absolute beauty to hear. It's a description of love I’ve both felt and admired. Most women seem to freely have and give it in abundance. Anyone who’s been so blessed, can easily see it in a mother’s love for her child and a wife’s love for her husband. It’s a love that covers a multitude of wrongs.

You can hear it with accompanying lyrics at

  © Helpful Creative  Sources:  +  Classic Album Sundays

© Helpful Creative

Sources: + Classic Album Sundays

Nichole Nordeman

Added on by Craig Stewart.

If you’ve heard Nichole Nordeman’s beautiful song “Every Season,” you might be surprised to learn the story behind it. The song was written about a friend’s wedding day and soon followed by the groom’s memorial service. Nichole first performed this song at this same memorial service.

In Nichole’s own words, “It was so overwhelming to have these two really heavy life moments, one overflowing with joy and one unbelievably wrought with grief and to somehow still be able to believe… to really believe that God is not God only in a summer season. That God is not God only when our life is good. And it was so much more of a challenge to say to God, ‘You are still here and You are still in charge and You are still full of goodness and mercy’ in the middle of winter. ‘Every Season’ was my way of saying ‘I’m not going to let God’s sovereignty be ruled by my emotions or circumstances or I’ll be all over the map for the rest of my life.”

It’s songs like “Every Season” that justify why Nichole often refers to herself as a “wrestling poet.” 

Ralph Stanley

Added on by Craig Stewart.

“Cry from the Cross” was released in 1972 with what many consider Ralphy Stanley’s best band during his lengthy career. These band members included singer Roy Lee Centers, fiddler Curly Ray Cline, bassist Jack Cooke, mandolinist Ricky Skaggs and guitarist Keith Whitley.

On this memorable album comes the hard-charging bluegrass number “I Am the Man Thomas,” written by Stanley and Larry Sparks. The tempo is fast and urgent with lyrics reflecting the words of Jesus as He greets Thomas, eight-days after the resurrection:

Oh, I am the Man, Thomas, I am the Man
Look at these nail scars here in my hands

They pierced me in the side, Thomas, I am the Man.
They made me bear the cross, Thomas, I am the Man

They laid me in the tomb, Thomas, I am the Man
In three days I arose, Thomas, I am the Man

This same Thomas, a disciple of Jesus Christ, gave birth to the term “Doubting Thomas.” Thomas’ made the infamous statement to the other disciples who had seen Jesus appearing first without him, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my fingers where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later, Jesus re-appears to the same disciples and asks Thomas to put his fingers on his hands and into his side with the words, “Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:24-29

  © Helpful Creative  Sources:  Like the Dew  +  Bluegrass Today  +  Greg Rakozy

© Helpful Creative

Sources: Like the Dew + Bluegrass Today + Greg Rakozy

Lauren Daigle

Added on by Craig Stewart.

Lauren Daigle delivers powerful vocals on “How Can It Be” with both a painful yearning and wonder for God’s all-sufficient grace. Both the song and Lauren’s album by the same name became RIAA Certified Gold.

This heartfelt praise was written by Paul Mabury, Jason Ingram and Jeff Johnson. Both Lauren as the performer and Paul as one of the writers found their inspiration for this song in the biblical story of grace that Jesus Christ showed a woman caught in adultery, John 8:3-12.

These verses describe Jesus stooping down on the ground when a crowd of men threw a woman at His feet and said, “Look at what she’s done, shouldn't we stone her? That’s what the law requires,” they said. Listening to their accusations of being a lawbreaker… for a sin that would require her death, Jesus demonstrates God’s perfect justice, love and grace for her.

  © Helpful Creative  Sources:  +  Premier Productions  +  Mira Bozhko

© Helpful Creative

Sources: + Premier Productions + Mira Bozhko

Fanny Crosby & William Doane

Added on by Craig Stewart.

“Draw Me Nearer,” is a classic hymn by what many consider to be the greatest hymn writer of all, Frances Jane “Fanny” Crosby and her collaborator William Doane. William J. Reynolds provides the context for the following composition of this hymn: 

“One evening she and Doane talked at length about the nearness of God in their lives. When Fanny went to her room, her mind and heart were flooded with ideas from their conversation. Before she went to sleep, the lines of “I am thine, O Lord” were in her mind... The next morning she recited the words to Doane, who wrote down the stanzas and composed the tune.”

The text appeared with the following inscription from Hebrews 10:22: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (KJV)

Fanny’s inspired revelation becomes clearer when reading the previous verses in Hebrews 10: 

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a high priest over the house of God...” (KJV)

This hymn provides a timeless understanding of a heart’s desire for Christ’s grace and perfection.

  © Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.  Source:  Discipleship Ministries

© Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.

Source: Discipleship Ministries

Marley’s Ghost

Added on by Craig Stewart.

“Sinner Man” is a gospel song of invitation from a Northern California band by the name of Marley’s Ghost. It’s a traditional a cappella Appalachian folk song, previously composed and performed by Ralph Stanley. Not to be confused with the well-known “Sinnerman” spiritual, recorded by a host of artists, including the 10-minute-plus definitive version by Nina Simone. 

I’ve long enjoyed this particular song for the straightforward simplicity of its message.


Sinner man, so discouraged
while traveling through this land, this land.
Oh, Lord, this land.

Come, let us have a little talk with Jesus
just to hear what He has to say.

My God Almighty spoke and He said,
"Go! And I'll go with you.
Open your mouth and I will speak for you."
For the Lord, tell me what to say,
they won't believe on me.

I would not be a sinner,
tell you the reason why:
'Fraid the Lord might call me
and I wouldn't be ready to die.


Some say give me silver.
Some say give me gold.
I say, "Give me Jesus!
For He's precious to my soul."


  © Helpful Creative  Sources:  Wikipedia  +  The Rainmakers  +  Andrew Neel  +  Jilbert Ebrahimi

© Helpful Creative

Sources: Wikipedia + The Rainmakers + Andrew Neel + Jilbert Ebrahimi

Chris Tomlin’s Home

Added on by Craig Stewart.

Chris Tomlin is a multi-platinum Christian singer, worship leader and songwriter from Grand Saline, Texas, who has sold nearly 30 million records. He’s known as one of Christian music’s biggest stars.

“Home” is one of the hits from his 2016 album, “Never Lose Sight.” About this song, Tomlin has said, “We all know this world we’re living in is not what it was meant to be. There’s so much fear, so much suffering, so much sorrow, so much pain, but the beauty that this song points to is that one day Jesus is going to make all things new. There will be no more sin, no more sorrow, the chains will be broken and we will see what it was all meant to be.”

For context, we only need to look at what the apostle John himself recorded in Revelation, ‘And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” — Revelation 21:3-4 ESV

  © Helpful Creative  Sources:  FREECCM  +  Wikipedia  +  Samantha Sophia  +  Ioan Schlosser

© Helpful Creative

Sources: FREECCM + Wikipedia + Samantha Sophia + Ioan Schlosser

The Afters

Added on by Craig Stewart.

Life can sometimes be overwhelming to us. We can feel weak, we can feel pain and we can feel sadness.

These are the feelings behind The Afters new song “Battles” off the album “Live On Forever,” released in 2016. For this song they gained inspiration from the hard times their friends were going through at the time. To quote one of the band members, “As we were working on the song, one of my closest friends from high school let me know that his wife was diagnosed with stage four cancer. They have two kids, and they are my age. I saw a post where they were going in for her chemo treatments, and the whole family puts on superhero costumes, wearing masks and capes. They went in knowing that God was with them in the fight. I admired the faith they had, facing cancer and trusting God and knowing that He is fighting alongside of them and fighting on their behalf.”

Now you might think “Battles” would be one super sad song, but you would be mistaken. The Afters crafted a contemporary Christian pop song filled with pure joy and hope. It’s the very same joy and hope offered to anyone who puts their trust and faith in Jesus Christ (John 16:33).

  © Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.  Source:

© Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.


Al Green’s Lament

Added on by Craig Stewart.

The event that altered Al Green’s life as a famous R&B performer, began October 18, 1974. On this date Mary Woodson, a woman who had walked away from her family to be with Green, attacked him in his bathroom and in a fit of rage threw a boiling pan of grits on Green. She then shot and killed herself in Green’s Memphis home. During his long recovery from third-degree burns, Green fully devoted himself to his faith. After he recovered, he bought a church, the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis and began leading services there.

Later, suffering a slight lull in his gospel career with 1984's “Trust in God,” Green reunited with producer Willie Mitchell to help re-energize his album sales. Even though, Mitchell admittedly preferred the secular to the religious music, Green remained unwavering in his faith. Together they worked on and published the gospel soul album “He Is the Light,” released in 1985.

“Power” is a beautifully heartfelt lament and worship song by Al Green and Willie Mitchell, released on this same album. While not typically remembered for its relevance to Easter, it still resonates with praise for Him who has the power over life and death (John 10:18). The only One who is able to change the hearts and circumstances of those whose trust is in Him.

  © Helpful Creative  Sources:  Biography  +  AllMusic  +  Jesse Dittmar

© Helpful Creative

Sources: Biography + AllMusic + Jesse Dittmar

In The Sweet Bye and Bye

Added on by Craig Stewart.

When Jospeh P. Webster (1819-1875) came into Dr. Samuel Fillmore Bennett’s (1836-1898) office one day looking a bit depressed. Bennett asked ‘What’s the trouble now?’ ‘Oh, nothing,’ Webster replied, ‘Everything will be alright by and by.’

Bennett then turned back to his desk where he mused “By and by.”  Thinking to himself, he said, “The sweet by and by,” that would make a good hymn.”

Webster, a musician by trade, hummed out a melody and in a few minutes Bennett had completed three verses and a chorus. With the help of Webster and some friends, who were also present, the hymn was set it to music almost on the spot. After one of the other men played the melody on a violin a few times. The small group of men sang the new hymn in Webster’s office for the first time.

“In The Sweet Bye and Bye” was popularized by The Salvation Army and has often been sung at Army funeral services.

The Doxology

Added on by Craig Stewart.

“The Doxology” is an expression of praise to the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. First published in 1709 by composer Thomas Ken, this short hymn of praise is one of the most well known in Christian worship.

Thomas Ken was orphaned in childhood. It’s interesting to note that he was raised by his older sister, Ann, and her husband, Izaak Walton, noted for his classic “The Compleat Angler.” Ken would eventually become Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1684, where he spent most of his life intertwined with both College and Cathedral in Winchester.


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

  © Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.  Source:  Christianity Today

© Helpful Creative. All Rights Reserved.

Source: Christianity Today