Theme CD: Family Heritage

Many Southern Gospel songs address one of a fairly small list of topics (the Cross, the empty Tomb, Heaven) directly. That’s hardly a bad thing, considering that other Christian genres go through phases of being weak on those key topics.

At the same time, the Bible addresses a number of other topics that are certainly germane for a Christian song, and Southern Gospel songwriters, from time to time, address these areas. So, from time to time, let’s pull out a theme and explore what Southern Gospel has to offer on that topic.

Are there enough Southern Gospel songs on the topic of leaving a Godly family heritage to put together a complete CD with that theme?

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Daniel J. Mount is the founder and editor of Southern Gospel Journal.


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  1. Monuments by Legacy Five is the only one that comes to mind.

    • …but it’s a good one!

      I had one or two others somewhat related in mind, but I’m holding off mentioning them since I’m curious what everyone else can come up with!

    • That is what first popped into mine also!

  2. The one that instantly popped into my mind was Monuments, too!

  3. Precious Memories – a classic. “Family Table” by the Lewis Family, but it’s so sentimental I can’t stand it. Maybe “What Jesus Means to Me” (correct title?) that George Younce did, by Bill & Gloria. It’s not exactly about heritage over time, but certainly about God’s influence in the home.

    I guess on “Precious Memories” I meant “Family Bible,” but they both are up there. Only problem is, I’m tired of them!

    • Yes, I’ll admit to being tired of “Precious Memories,” too. It’s been used as the musical background for too many recitations that should have not made the cut onto an album.

      • My favorite version of these two songs (read: the only versions I really care for) are the Homeland Quartet’s version of “Family Bible” and J.D. & the Stamps’ version of “Precious Memories.” You’d think I would pick the better known groups and say they hit it out of the park; these are groups I don’t even care to listen to much. But the Homeland Quartet found just the right laid-back feel for “Family Bible.” They put in some nice steel guitar. And I just like to hear old J.D. down there with his lead on “Precious Memories.” Let’s just say I’m much less likely to skip those songs when those versions come up! (Nothing against the song; they’ve just been over-used. I guess they’re too good. Does that belong in the Classics discussion?)

  4. There’s a song called “I Have a Goodly Heritage”…don’t know who’s recorded it, but I’ve heard it sung (and actually sung it myself) at church.

    For a hymn, how about “Faith of Our Fathers”.

    Pretty tough subject to think of songs for.

    • Guess that means some songwriters should get to writin’!

      • Precisely – actually, that’s what prompted the post. I recently wrote two tied into the topic, one very directly and another with a little broader focus. Then I started wondering if anyone else was writing on the topic.

      • I was going to tell you that I had written “Goodly Heritage” (based on Psalm 16), but I see someone told you in the comment below.
        The song has been sung and recorded all across America, predominantly in the Independent Baptist circles; but my favorite memory was sitting in a HOT open-air tabernacle in the Philippine Islands with over 6,000 Filipinos gathered there… they announced that all the children of the full-time pastors and missionaries were going to honor their parents at that time, and a young girl began singing “Goodly Heritage.” She had no idea that I, sitting in that audience, was the composer. My heart swelled with the thought of the Lord using that song so widely.

        Having said all of that, though, I have often said (to support your statement, Daniel) that my song is not all that fantastic; it’s just that it’s one of VERY VERY few on that topic.

        Whatever the case, I’m thankful that the Lord has used it.

        Leah Sandlin
        a.k.a. Joseph Habedank’s mom :)

      • Leah,

        Great to hear from you here! Yes, I know who you are – even though I live in NC now, growing up in Ohio, I crossed paths with you at several Perrys concerts.

        Yes, songs on this topic are all too rare!

      • Dear Leah,

        Your song has been such a blessing to me. I don’t have the heritage that you talk about, but my husband and I have started that heritage in our home for our daughter.

        I have also heard a third verse on youtube, but have been unable to figure out all the words. I am wondering if you have written the third verse and would be willing to share the words for that verse as well. It mentions those who didn’t have that goodly heritage.

        Thank you and may God continue to use you.
        Lorinda

      • The third verse to “Goodly Heritage” is
        When problems plague you, and troubles rage on,
        Just look to your children who’ll bear your name on
        Someday they’ll walk down the same path your on,
        And they’ll need your witness that His grace is strong

        2nd Chorus
        They need a goodly heritage
        They’ll look to you and press on
        They’ll say my folks stayed faithful
        In that strength they can carry on

        Hope this helps Ms. Lewis

    • Joseph Habedank’s mom, Leah Sandlin, wrote “I Have a Goodly Heritage”.

  5. Here’s one that’s semi-related, one of the few bouncing through my mind when I was putting the post together:

    Applause of Heaven – The Hoppers. It might not seem like it immediately, but most of the vignettes in the verses are actually pertinent.

  6. At least somewhat related (although not all SG, but could be done as) are:

    Find Us Faithful – Steve Green
    Did I Make A Difference – The Oak Ridge Boys
    Faces – Greater Vision
    Thank You – Ray Boltz (I think Ivan cut this too or at least did it on a Gaither Video)
    Things We Must Tell The Children – Bill Gaither Trio

    I realize that some of these might not be exactly as you described but I feel they are related.

    • “Find us Faithful” is so on-topic that it’s hard for me to think of the topic without thinking of the song! It’s stylistically SG enough that pretty much any SG artist could pull off a great rendition.

      But the fact that three of the five come from out of the genre does leave the question – are there enough songs on the topic from within our genre to have a good themed CD on the topic?

      • “Find Us Faithful” immediately came to my mind as well, and I would have suggested it if I thought it was really an SG song. But I think it’s more contemporary than gospel. Plus it belongs to a CCM artist vs. an SG artist. But I could really hear L5 doing a good version of it.

      • There may be those who disagree with this, but to me SG is different in style. Some might say lyrics, but there are great lyrics and poor lyrics in SG and CCM. Harmony? In both. Basses? Mostly SG, but also in CCM (Acapella) plus, if you say that is needed for SG, then what about SG soloists? Are they not SG?

        Granted, it would be nice to support writers from within our industry, but if the songs aren’t there, or are of lesser quality, then why not record ones that have the message needed?

      • If I was recording a CD on that theme, I suspect I would indeed pull a song or two from other genres, and a hymn or two. That wasn’t so much the point of my question; the question was whether SG writers have produced ten or more songs along these lines, regardless of whether a particular individual would also pull from other genres for a project.

      • I could also hear L5 doing “Find Us Faithful” Scott Fowler’s voice is a good fit for that song… He actually has a similar tone to Steve Green… Listen to his take on “Welcome To Our World” and you will see what I mean…
        I would also love to see Wes Hampton do that song on his upcoming solo CD… He has already picked his songs and I would be thrilled to find out that he did that one!

      • I’m looking forward to Wes’s solo CD. He’s a very talented tenor. I don’t think he’s in Steve’s league, but he’s very talented. Honestly, I’d say Wes is a perfect quartet tenor, but not a soloist. But I look forward to what style he picks for his solo album. My guess is it might have a bit of a contemp. flavor since Marshall Hall is lending a hand in the production.

      • Yeah, I’ve noticed that Scott sometimes tries to do a bit of “Steve sound” with his voice. I think he may have done even more of that when he was first starting out. Obviously, Steve has a much greater voice, but it certainly hasn’t hurt Scott any to follow a model like that!

  7. What about the Collingsworth Family song “Leave a Legacy” its one of an older one I saw a video of it here on youtube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QvjNfYFTPo
    =)

  8. One song that comes to mind is “Christian Family”- I can’t remember if its a Kingdom Heirs song (during the Sutton, Rice, French, Bennet lineup) or a early Triumphant/Intergrity song

  9. Oh, oh! “Thank God for my Christian Home” – Janet Paschal. Very pretty song.

  10. Reaching out a little here, but now I’m thinking “This house is built on amazing grace, anchored on the Rock of Ages …”

    • Actually, I guess that does fit well. “Some folks are building mansions / that they cannot afford / but as for me and my house / we will serve the Lord.”

  11. Amy – along those same lines, “As For Me and My House” by the Cathedrals, Florida Boys, and Happy Goodmans.

    Palmetto State did a different song by the same name in 2004.

    Though I would say that all three are more songs of commitment to go in the right direction than they are looking back on a heritage that has been left.

  12. As For Me And My House–Talleys
    Family Tree–Lesters
    We’re Building Temples–Talleys
    Roots and Wings–Wilburns
    Mama’s Translation–Poet Voices

    There’s also a song by Kingdom Heirs, among others, that said something to the effect of “Lord I Want To Be Just Like You, Becuase He Wants To Be Just Like Me.”

    • That’s probably a cover of the Phillips, Craig & Dean tune “I Want To Be Just Like You.” Great song.

      • Yes, that would be a PCD original. I agree, terrific, touching song. From back when PCD was still making really good music.

      • Yes, same song, and it’s really a tossup which is a better rendition.

        You might be surprised to hear me say that!

      • I’ve never heard the Kingdom Heirs’ rendition, so I’ll reserve my pronouncement until I have. I’ll just say that I’ll be surprised if it really is just as good as the PCD version. :-)

      • Hmmmm, okay, I found a sample of the KH version. Honestly, I’m already thinking I prefer PCD’s vocals and production on this one.

  13. Just thought of another one by the Talley Trio called “We Who Come Behind.”

    • Great song. I had it in the back of my mind, but couldn’t pull out the title.

  14. Yes. (My mind was stretching for a Goodmans’ song there; I knew there had to be one.) They would make a nice change in pace on this album, though. Most of the songs that we’ve named so for are pretty slow, at least the ones that I know. And the Speers one strongly suggests permanence.

    • Oops, I should have used reply – I was answering Daniel & cross-posted.

  15. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned “Faithful to the Cross” yet. Somebody say instant classic?

    • I’ve said instant classic before. :)

      I had this on mind when drafting this post, and was wondering how long it would take someone to mention it!

      • I thought for sure somebody else was going to get to it long before I did! I didn’t even bother to mention it at first because it was so obvious.

    • You know what is interesting about that song… It is without a doubt a instant classic but… It is NOT being sent to radio… I have considered emailing Daywind about this one(not that it would make much of a differnce… With Daywind the artist has very little say in what songs gets sent to the radio… it is all label driven… So just like “We Shall See Jesus” for the Cat’s this is another classic that won’t get the chance to make noise on the charts, at least by the original artist…

      • You have to be kidding me. That is the craziest missed opportunity I’ve heard in the last few years…

      • Huh?? Dude, that’s a *monster* radio hit in the making. I want to know who dropped the ball on that one!

      • Completely agreed. In my opinion Faithful to the Cross is the best song L5 has ever recorded. I think it’s a shame that When They Found Nothing is the one getting sent to radio and getting a song of year nomination. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song, but I just prefer Faithful to the Cross.

  16. Hi, I’m new here, but I found this topic quite interesting because I had wondered about the small amount of themes SG songwriters use.
    Granted, I’m also new to this kind of music (being Dutch means little or no exposure to this kind of music) so what do I know … :)
    But a song that came to mind however was “Build an Ark”, by the Gaither Vocal Band.
    I hope it fits …

    • It’s at least somewhat related, as much as many of the others here.

      Great to hear from you!

      • That one belongs with “John Wayne” in the theologically-suspect pigeon hole.

        Another one of Guy’s not-so-gospel songs.

        Daniel, this one seems a bit of a struggle, the “godly” aspect seems to be slipping! :-)

      • Hey, I love “Build an Ark!” Exactly what is wrong or ungodly about it, hmmm?

      • I don’t think it’s “worldy” or “ungodly”. True, there’s not much theological meat there, but I don’t think it says anything that harms the Gospel.

      • It just hit me: David might be objecting to a lyric change Guy made. Where the Cathedrals said “It seems I feel,” I believe Guy sings, “I swear I feel.”

        Is that it?

        (If so, David, you might have saved us just a bit of confusion by coming right out and saying what the issue was!)

      • David – are you just saying that because of Guy’s interesting vocal effect early in the song?

        I tend to think of the Cathedrals’ version when I think of the song.

      • Sorry guys, been busy!

        The song just does not cut it for me at all.

        No offense! I do however acquaint it with Guy, not the Cat’s.

        Maybe it’s harmless enough but it doesn’t spring to mind in this context,

        not like “Heroes of Our Faith”, as mentioned below.

        A truly poignant masterpiece by Roger.

      • Well obviously not. It’s supposed to be a light, fun thing.

        Having said that though, I do appreciate the robustness of the message. It’s not one of these “fear builds walls instead of bridges” and “I’ll dare to see another’s point of view” kind of things (sorry Gloria!) Instead what it communicates is this idea that the world is corrupt, and we need to gather together those we love, protect our children, and keep ourselves pure from its influence. Honestly, we could use more songs with that sort of message today.

      • I have four versions of the song, and the version with Guy is the least familiar one to me. The one I’m most familiar with (because it’s the first I heard) is from GVB’s Testify album, with Buddy Mullins on lead. Then there’s the original 1980s GVB version (don’t remember which album…New Point of View?). Then the Cats version from Prestigious (I think). Finally the newest one from GVB’s Lovin Life.

        Actually, now that I think about it, I have five versions…the last is from the GVB Reunion CDs.

  17. What about “Stuff of Life” by the Booth Brothers?

    • It is a song about family, but it’s more about family in the here and now than past heritage or future legacy.

      • I think the line “but most of all let their hearts burn with passion to serve Christ” seems like it would make it fit, IMHO…

      • It would if the topic was “family legacy” – legacy is something we are leaving or pray to leave, while heritage is something that has been left to us. Does that make sense?

      • In that case, wouldn’t Monuments be out as well? The hook of the song is leaving monuments (or, a legacy) for your family. Not talking about a heritage that HAS BEEN left. It seems they’re are very VERY few songs about an actual heritage that’s already been left.

  18. Although not very popular on sg radio. Would our cut of “He Lived to Love the Lord” fit? And I agree with “Stuff of Life”, also “Really Big News” by GVB?

    • ‘Godly family heritage…?’

      Russ Taff might,

      the song does not!

    • I could see “He Lived to Love the Lord” fitting.

  19. Here’s another good one. As you know, I don’t like David Phelps’s solo stuff in general, but I was touched by his song “Legacy of Love.” I don’t know though, would that not count as SG? Thematically, it’s a perfect fit.

    • I like that song… But I am not sure if it would be considered Southern Gospel… But I suppose “Find Us Faithful” isn’t either…

  20. Would “Loving God Loving Each Other” count? Or what about “Thank You Lord For Your Blessings” Someone mentioned “Monuments” Earlier that is really good one… Also there is a Jim Brady song that was written in memory of his parents called “Never A Doubt” I believe Kim Hoppers “Well Done Well Done” is a good one as well…

    • Well…”Loving God, Loving Each Other” might count thematically. But it’s like putting 11 spoonfuls of sugar in your coffee… just a little too much for me!

      • I know what you mean… :)

  21. Also how about “Heroes Of The Faith” by L5?

    • Oh my gosh, I feel like an idiot. DOH! Of course, wonderful song and perfect fit for the theme. However, I don’t think anybody but Roger could sing that one simply because it’s such a personally specific lyric.

      • Actually I don’t quite agree SoGoBro [IMHO!!],

        I know Roger wrote it out of his emotion at Glenn’s passing, but it is a fit for the passing of many others of this genre – George, Roger himself, Anthony Burger etc.

        It plays in my head when we hear of another good gospel singer gone home to glory.

      • That’s true…I was just referring to the fact that the first verse talks about Roger’s first chance to meet Glen as a teenager. Obviously the theme can be universally applied to great departed gospel singers.

      • And not only singers. This song can be applied to anyone in anyone’s life that has lost someone who was their hero of the faith!

      • Well…but it fits better with a singer. The first verse talks about “the reason why you sing” after all.

      • I thought of Heroes of the Faith, but got sidetracked and never posted it.

  22. True you have a point on that one… :)

    • Well, but “the reason why I sing” could be taken to be the reason you’re singing the song (not only the reason you have a career as a professional singer).

      Kind of like “the reason why I post” could refer only to the reason I put up a particular comment.

    • My vote is that this is a “Roger song.” That second verse is just extremely personalized. Without it, sure, let anyone who pleases do it. But that song was about Roger and the Cathedrals! :)

      Y’all know me and that I’m stating my opinion, not being dogmatic (but I’m right anyway!).

      • Actually, I think the first verse is more personalized than the second. But regardless, I actually agree with you there.

  23. “Goin Away Party” written by Bruce Haynes, released by White River, and covered by Jeff & Sheri Easter.

  24. Another one that I believe could be included is “This Old Place” By Signature Sound….

    • Mmmmm, possibly. But to me that one’s not so much about leaving a legacy of faithfulness behind us as it is a reminder to lay up treasures in heaven.

  25. I like “An American Family” by the Oak Ridge Boys. It’s one of those lyrics that just mentions Jesus in a photo on the wall, but the song wouldn’t be the same without that important detail.

    “And there’s a picture on the wall of Jesus in the garden
    It’s been there since they got the house in ’53″

    Some of the lyrics are here, but they added a bridge after 9/11 that isn’t included at this link:
    http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/An-American-Family-lyrics-Oak-Ridge-Boys/FDDA22CBD02B331C482570A900128127

    • Nice. I prefer the original myself even though the added lyrics are nice.

  26. Try “Real Faith” by Brian Free & Assurance. Not my favorite group, but a good song.

    • O that is another good one! I love that song… And I am actually a big fan of BFA :)

  27. She Loved – Jeff & Sheri Easter
    Heroes of the Faith – Legacy Five

  28. Could “Yesterday’s Preacher” by L5 be included?

    • Huh, I’ve never heard of that song, and I have most of L5′s stuff. What album is it from?

      • Table project … I think it was “A Little Taste of Heaven,” but I’m NOT sure.

  29. There were many great suggestions! If I were to record a CD with this theme, I think I would pick these:

    I’d definitely include:
    Faithful to the Cross – Legacy Five
    Monuments – Legacy Five
    Applause of Heaven – Hoppers
    As For Me and My House – Happy Goodmans (if I was with a quartet!)
    We Who Come Behind – Talley Trio

    I have two I’ve written that I would include, so that leaves three spaces left. I’m not too keen on these being exact fits for my theme, but they’re the closest of the remaining songs mentioned:

    Heroes of the Faith – Legacy Five
    What Jesus Means to Me – Cathedrals
    This Old Place – Signature Sound

    So, if you were doing a CD with this theme, which ten would you pick?

    • While “Heroes of the Faith” isn’t so much about leaving a godly *family* heritage as about leaving a godly heritage in general, I think it fits a lot better than “This Old Place.” So I’d definitely include that one from the start.

  30. I’m not sure if I could come up with ten that I know. If I were allowed to pull from CCM I wouldn’t know where to start (simply because I know that genre so much better). “Leave a Legacy,” “Faithful to the Cross,” and “Heroes of the Faith” would be must-includes though!

    • Just (for your particular top 10) go from CCM, then, but pick songs that could be arranged in an SG style. :)

  31. (In no particular order):

    Build an Ark (Actually would be at the beginning since it’s light and fun, leave the heavy stuff for later.)

    Legacy of Love

    Heroes of the Faith

    Faithful to the Cross

    Find Us Faithful

    I Want to Be Just Like You (Originally done by PCD. I’d like to see EHSS do this one—similar to “Thank God for Kids,” would make a great Doug feature.)

    A Man You Would Write About (Originally done by 4Him, but I could see BFA tackling it in style.)

    Freedom’s Never Free (Another PCD, could see L5 doing a nice job with this one.)

    Remember Me (By Mark Schultz—not sure which group would be a good fit for this one. It’s a male/female duet. Would work well with a pure tenor and an alto.)

    And that’s nine…I’m actually having trouble thinking of another one that I both know and really like that would fit. I might polish it off after I’ve listened to a few more songs.

  32. Just a few by EHSS I thought of (may be stretches)

    Sundays Are Made for Times Like These
    This Old Place
    Thank God for Kids

  33. What about The McKamey’s cut, “Who We Are” off of their project Always (1998). Much like “Heroes Of The Faith” being specific to Roger Bennet, this track is very specific to the McKamey family itself but still talks about how their extremely successful Christian ministry came about and what went into shaping their lives. The chorus ends, “it’s more than just a memory of a little church in Tennessee, it’s something handed down from heart to heart. It’s our heritage that makes us who we are.”

    In my opinion, one of the very best examples of the “Family Heritage” theme being discussed here. :)

    • That sounds great! I’ve never heard the project or the song, but it sounds like a good fit.

      • It is the same project with “Roll That Burden On Me” and “Wall Of Prayer,” two McKamey staples, of course.

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