Hymnspiration: In Times Like These

HymnspirationLogoDuring World War II, Ruth Caye Jones wrote the words and music to this simple, yet powerful, gospel song.  Mrs. Jones, a housewife, related that in the middle of her busy day she received spiritual inspiration – she wrote what God told her to write down.  The song was written in response to the daily stresses and strains of a woman and her family, living through the uncertainty of world-wide upheaval and war.  Sound familiar?

The song has been used in a variety of settings, including funerals and at other difficult and challenging times.  Through the years, several people related to Ruth Jones how the words were a special blessing.  Ruth received encouragement from the words of her song when she herself was experiencing a health crisis.

RuthCayeJonesShe was born in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania in 1902 and early in her life had taught herself to play both piano and organ.  She later married a pastor and together they raised five children.  Ruth established a radio ministry, broadcast each week from their home in Erie, Pennsylvania, “A Visit With the Joneses.”  Her son, Reverend Bert Jones, was an evangelist ordained by the Nazarene Church.  Not only was he a gifted minister, but a talented organist.

In a 1966 interview with The Pittsburgh Press (09 Jul 1966), he observed that preaching styles had changed to become more conversational.  He continued, “Music is improved.  It is a means of evangelism.  Sometimes through the message in song or in my case through an organ solo, the heart is touched and perhaps mellowed.”  It was not at all unusual for Rev. Jones to seat himself at the organ near the pulpit so he could use it as an illustration.

His skills as an organist were in demand in churches, organ societies and other groups.  He recorded several albums, heard around the world, touching hundreds of lives.  Bert was the first to record his mother’s song, followed by several other gospel artists – in 1966 it had already been recorded over ninety times.  At that time one gospel publisher believed the song had been recorded more than any other gospel song of the modern era.

Bert would later write about how his mother wrote the song:

Mother wrote this song during the dark days of World War II, with the words of 2 Timothy 3:1 in mind: “This know also, that in the last day perilous times shall come” (KJV).  The song was written in our family home in the Dormont area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Inspiration for the words and music came very spontaneously as she was in the middle of her housework – actually while she was ironing.  She took a pad of paper from her apron pocket, jotted down the words and melody and harmony.  When I came home from high school that day, Mother said, “Bert, you must try a new song that the Lord gave me today.”  As I played the song for the first time, and our family group sang it several times, we never dreamed how far the song would go to bless so many people.

It has been frequently used in the Billy Graham Crusades.  A very special high point for Mother came on the closing day of the Crusade at Columbus, Ohio, when George Beverly Shea asked her to sit on the platform, and he introduced her to the crowd before singing the song.1

Ruth passed away on August 18, 1972, but the words of her song, old-fashioned though they may be considered, are still comforting.  Both the words and melody are uncomplicated, yet present the Gospel in the simplest and most understandable terms:

In times like these you need a Savior,
In times like these you need an anchor,
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Refrain:
This Rock is Jesus,
Yes, He’s the One;
This Rock is Jesus,
The only One!
Be very sure, be very sure2
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible,
In times like these O be not idle;
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these I have a Savior,
In times like these I have an anchor;
I’m very sure, I’m very sure
My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

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© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2015.

 

 

Footnotes:

  1. Then Sings My Soul: The Story of Our Songs: Drawing Strength From the Great Hymns of Our Faith, by Robert J. Morgan, p. 157
  2. Verse 3 Refrain:  I’m very sure, I’m very sure . . .

4 Comments

  1. Loved your article Sharon! Thanks for sharing what you have learned, it means a lot.

    Reply
    • You’re welcome .. glad you enjoyed it. I’m always amazed at the history of some of these hymns, even joyful and upbeat ones borne out of great sorrow.

      Reply
  2. Thank you for sharing this. Ruth Caye Jones was my grandmother. If there were ever a time we needed the words to this song, it is now.

    Reply
    • Amen to that! Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply

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