By Dr. Mal Couch
Public prayer, spiritual publications of poems and music, have always been a part of America, until recently. There are forces now trying to silence the Christian spiritual heritage of open and free expression to our God that made this nation great.
Each week Iíll add some historical tidbits as how Christian expression and public prayer was a vital part of our nationís blessing. We may not fully know of the spiritual state of all the men we examine, but we do know none of them were fearful of prayers to the God of the Bible in the public setting.
If you are a pastor or Sunday school teacher, please print off these little bits of our history and share them with others.
One of the most enduring songs written after the Civil War was by Sanford Bennett entitled, "In the Sweet By and By." Bennett was the owner of a drugstore in Elkhorn, Wisconsin who had just returned from the war. A friend, Joseph Webster, a gifted musician trained formally in composition, came to Bennettís store each day to talk and play chess. Often Webster would come in depressed and down.
When asked what was wrong, Webster would often reply, "Itís no matter. It will be alright by and by." That idea hit Bennett like a flash of sunlight!
As Bennett put it, he took out a pen and it was all over in thirty minutes. A new hymn was born. In short order he was singing the words along with Webster and two other friends.
Bennett continued to manage his drugstore while Webster went on pursuing a composerís career, writing over a thousand musical compositions and compiling the very popular Sunday school hymnal "The Signet Ring." However he would not have the same success as with "The Sweet By and By." That hymn was perfect for the post-Civil War era because it conveyed pathos with a mixture of comforting warmth. It came to typify the virtues of spiritual hope.