Victory In Jesus was written by Eugene Bartlett in 1939. As best I can find out, the copyright is currently owned by Albert E. Brumley and Sons, administered by Integrated Copyright Group, Inc. E.M. Bartlett was born in 1883, on Christmas Eve, according to his World War I draft card. He wrote a number of gospel hymns, including a toe-tapping “Everybody Will Be Happy Over There.” (My own rendition!)
In 1918 Bartlett, along with Moore and John McClung founded the Hartford Music Company. From then until 1935 he served as president for the company, guiding it to be one of the earliest and greatest Southern Gospel music publishers. In 1939, Bartlett suffered a stroke. Partially paralyzed, he became bedridden, trapped at home. It was during this time he wrote his final song, “Victory In Jesus”. Knowing this really makes the lyrics stand out:
“And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t
To me the victory.”
Maybe his body was broken, but those are the words of a strong spirit.
If you’re interested in the history, try “Where Did That Song Come From?” and also “The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.”
Recently, my uncle J.R. passed away. He wanted me to be a pallbearer, and Aunt Wink also asked me to play Victory In Jesus for the congregation. I’ll usually spend weeks, if not months, working on a song to record. In this case, the best I could do was play it a few times, save it to my cell phone, and listen to it over and over during the hour drive.
During the service my cousin Randy stayed right next to me, offering much-needed moral support. I kept it simple, and any mistakes were covered up by the congregation singing along. After that we listened to several speakers, including Uncle Chester. Each person knew J.R. personally, and shared memories that made us smile and laugh. It was sad, yet not sad.
My final tribute to J.R. is this song, Victory In Jesus. Spent a few weeks trying to improve, and finally it’s done. It might not be perfect, but it’s my best, and I think he’ll understand.