A couple months ago, Dad brought a bunch of hymnals that had been my Great Grandmothers and we spend some time at my sisters paging through them. It was cool to see some of our favorites today in those song books from 80 or so years ago.
One of them was named ‘Seth Parker’s Hymnal’. I had no idea who he was, but while paging through I came across this oddball:
IF YOU’RE HAPPY
(The Lord is Happy Too)
If you think that the Lord is Gloomy
If you think that the Lord is Blue
You will find that you’ve been mistaken
It isn’t the Lord, it’s you.
You’ve gone to the Lord with trouble
You’ve gone to the Lord when sad
Just change things ’round next time.
And go to the Lord when glad
When you’re happy, the Lord is happy too
When you’re smiling, the Lord will smile at you.
Don’t you think it’s fair when all is said
To visit the Lord before you’re dead
When you’re laughing, the Lord will understand
‘Cause he made laughs the same as he made man
And if you should think the Lord is sad,
Try calling on Him when you’re glad.
I have no words for that, some of it just doesn’t make sense (visit the Lord before you’re dead?) What kind of whacked out hymn is this and what sort of theology says put on a happy face for God?
But wait, there’s more:
HAS ANYONE FOUND A TROUBLE
I had a mess of troubles
That were troubling me
And each one was a thoroughbred
With a great long pedigree
But now I’ve gone and lost one
I’ve had since infancy
I thought my chronic trouble
Would have more loyalty
Has anybody found a trouble
The trouble that belongs to me?
It was as big a trouble
As troubles ever grow to be
You say you’ve found a small one
One you can hardly see?
Why that must be the trouble
The trouble that belongs to me.
So I Googled ‘Seth Parker’. Turns out he was a stage name for Phillips Lord (the songs were credited to both) who did a very popular radio show in the 1920s and early 1930s. Seth Parker was a character on the show, a folksy pastor based on his grandfather. The show aired 6 times a week and earned Lord close to $100,000 a year, according to the Wikipedia article linked above. He’s even got a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. I had assumed that Seth Parker was some sort of minister, but it turns out that he was just a showman with a sort of religious bent.
It wasn’t all goofy, folksy hymns. There are many old standards like IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL, ROCK OF AGES and JESUS LOVES ME. (There was also, ironically, THE OLD TIME RELIGION) There are a lot of hymns I’ve never heard of too, there among those odd balls by Mr. Lord.
But, he also wrote this one, which isn’t so odd at all:
(verses 1 & 3)
They tell me, up in heaven
The streets are paved with gold
The crowns upon the angels
are silver, I am told
The pearly gates of heaven,
Are made of jewels rare;
But what care I have for jewels,
If God is waiting there.
I’ve never even worried
About the things above,
When I have stopped to realize,
That I will have God’s love.
What heaven is or looks like,
I cannot seem to care.
For all I want to know is
That God is waiting there.