Sunday, November 25, 2012

I Played in the Band

Here's a fun song called "I Played in the Band" by Bill Gaither from the Booth Brothers' recent album, "A Tribute to the Songs of Bill and Gloria Gaither." (So if the link disappears or something, and you liked the song, try to find a copy of the album.)

Bill likes to tell the story of the song's origin. Bill was talking to gospel music great Henry Slaughter and asked him what he would want people to say about him after he dies. Slaughter answered, "I played in the band, wrote a few songs, and sang in the choir." Bill, being a songwriter, instantly recognized that this was the tag line of a song and has carefully given Slaughter partial credit for the song that Gaither and Larry Gatlin subsequently wrote. What struck Bill, of course, was the humility of Slaughter's response.

Now I have a story to add to that one. We were recently privileged to have apologist Lee Strobel come to our town, and he and my husband got a chance to go out to lunch. Strobel tells this story: Some years ago Bill Gaither invited Strobel to speak at some event. (As I'm reporting this secondhand, I didn't get the exact details of the event.) Strobel, an adult convert with no previous connection to gospel music, had never heard of Bill Gaither before and had no idea of how famous he was. He was just happy for the opportunity to speak and thought of Gaither as the organizer. Over a meal, Strobel innocently turned to Gaither and said, "So what do you do? Do you sing?" Bill didn't miss a beat, didn't express surprise, annoyance, didn't become facetious. He just answered quietly, pleasantly, and self-deprecatingly, "Yeah, I sing." And that was all. Lee Strobel had no idea of his own faux pas until later.

The humility that Bill Gaither admired in Henry Slaughter is one of his own qualities. Which is a good thing to think of.

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