Jesus Saves – We Have Heard the Joyful Sound: Words by Priscilla J Owens, Music by William J Kirkpatrick, and published in 1882. Priscilla Owens was a teacher in a Baltimore public school. The words were written for a missionary service in Sunday School of the Union Square Methodist Church. The lyrics themselves are surely inspirational; Not just “Jesus Saves”, but the message that it’s a great joy to hear, and needs to be shared far and wide.
By themselves, I can’t imagine the words being so well known, no matter how well written. What made the difference is the music, added by William Kirkpatrick 14 years after Priscilla wrote the words!
It was worth the wait… Kirkpatrick had a lively style, and combined with the lyrics, created a memorable and stirring song. Every time our music director announced “Turn in your Hymnals to Jesus Saves”, I’d feel a thrill. Might even have bounce on my heels a couple of times… :^)
To someone who loves foot-stomping, toe-tapping worship music, getting to sing this one in church was like an especial gift, meant just for me. It always made the day better.
Years later, living in Missouri, our song director once told me the secret to effective music services. Start off with lively music. Get people awake, in a good mood, and paying attention. After some ‘happy music’, then do a medium speed song. This lets people know it’s time to focus. Get ready to listen to the sermon. Time to tone down the excitement. Lastly, finish off with an emotional appeal. Something to get people feeling close to God. Set the right frame of mind before the service.
I’m a bit old-school. Or maybe I just never realized there was so much planning involved in setting the mood for the preacher. But at least he had a plan, and you could pretty much count on enjoying the music service.
As with much of my music, this was inspired, if not outright learned from, Uncle Friel. The way he played it was exactly what I liked in music. My aspirations are grand, but I fall a little short in the execution. Still, anything good about how I play this came from him. Anywhere I fall short I did all on my own. :^)
One thing is undeniable though… Jesus Saves is exciting music!