Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More People Should Listen to 'Softly and Tenderly' Hymn

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More People Should Listen to 'Softly and Tenderly' Hymn

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA. | Sometimes, a song gets stuck in your head. The best reason to avoid Disney World is so you don't hear "It's a Small World After All."

It's sort of like when I took Vonette to her first bluegrass festival. We got home about midnight and she couldn't sleep. "I still hear banjos in my head," she said.

For a week, a song has stuck with me. I sing a few words of it when I'm driving or walking from one room to the next. I found myself whistling while walking outdoors Wednesday. It hasn't so much stuck as haunted.

Because country music isn't all that country anymore - at least not since George Jones last sang at the Opry - I didn't watch the Country Music Association Awards show Nov. 8, but I heard about Carrie Underwood's performance later, found it on the internet and watched it.

With a spotlight on her and candles shining around her, Underwood sang "Softly and Tenderly," Will L. Thompson's hymn published in 1880. She sang it in memory of the country music industry voices that had fallen eternally silent in the past year and, finally, for the 26 people whom Devin Patrick Kelley shot to death days before at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

One of the people the association remembered was Glen Campbell, who died last year of Alzheimer's. I imagined Campbell singing "Softly and Tenderly" and found a YouTube recording of him singing it long ago at North Phoenix Baptist Church. My imagined version was only slightly better than the actual one. Like Underwood's performance, Campbell was backed by an orchestra. The violins of North Phoenix Baptist played a beautiful arrangement.

I found other versions, one of Dolly, Linda and Emmylou from a second release of "Trio." The original album didn't have "Softly and Tenderly," but the 2016 full version did. …

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