When I was growing up, Southern Gospel had made it’s way into mainstream church services as a departure from the red backed (or green backed, or blue backed) hymnal.
Church services usually consisted of three hymns – an exuberant one to wake people up and get their attention, a reflective one that spoke of the majesty of God, followed by a slow one to cause inner reflection and reverence before the sermon. After the sermon, another hymn would encourage people to come into a relationship with God or reaffirm their faith. It all made sense.
Southern Gospel interrupted all that. “Specials” were inserted that usually allowed a person with a guitar or on piano, or perhaps a well practiced group or choir to embrace the new trend and bring it into the church service. I remember The Rambos, The Happy Goodman Family, and many others. I also sang southern gospel at that time – either as a soloist with my guitar, or as the alto of a group.
Although Southern Gospel is not my favorite type of Christian music, it still has a good place in my memory and the lyrics of the old songs spring back to mind from time to time. Thank God for the Lighthouse, God Walks the Dark Hills, The Grass is Greener on the Other Side, I’ve Got a Mansion, and many, many more are stored in the library of my mind. I miss their simple melodies and the stories told by their words.
I’ve even heard sermons that came out of this song – Don’t Be Satisfied with a Cabin; We Won’t Need Silver or Gold; Jesus Said, “I Go to Prepare a Place for You”; I’m Not Worried About a Mansion – I Just Want to Get There!; A Mansion that Never Needs Repairs; A Place Where We’ll Never Grow Old; Are You Discouraged or Lonely? Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Here are the words to I’ve Got a Mansion… by Ira Stanphill
I’m satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that’s silver lined
I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold
Don’t think me poor or deserted or lonely
I’m not discouraged I’m heaven bound
I’m but a pilgrim in search of the city
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown