Saturday, April 13, 2013

Celebrating - and considering another benefit to blogging family history.

Today the pages viewed on my blog passed 3,000. I missed the early celebratory marks of one and two thousand. I'm truly thankful to the family members and fellow genealogy bloggers that have commented on and followed my blogging. It's an honor to have such great friends in the family history blogging community and to know that many in the family feel my research has, as it were, 'brought the family closer together.'

I wanted to celebrate this landmark by re publishing the most popular post. It was a surprising one but the page with the most hits is one which talks about the hymn my great grandfather wrote his own music for; "I fell in love with the Nazarene." I think it's popular because there's very little information on the web about this song. In fact if you google the song title my website is often in the top 5 hits. This led me to realise another side benefit to blogging about family history. Sometimes it's just possible that what you write adds to the history and knowledge of the world.

The stories you type and the interviews you conduct are all valuable in more ways than to just your family. They contribute to a growing body of information that when pooled together increases the richness of society and the uniqueness of your families smaller or larger role in it. It seems even more fitting to re-post this again having now found out that Idris Davies also sang this version of the song.

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This is the first in a series of blogs that will endeavor to capture the heart of some old hymns. They are not just any hymns but those which I know my ancestors sang. I will post the lyrics with some information about who crafted the hymn and why. Sometimes I may explore the words and lyrics of a tune and sometimes there may also be a family story behind them. I hope you enjoy reading about this as much I will sharing them with you.

Harold Emanuel Griffiths

There are many things to write about Harold but for the purpose of this blog it is enough to say this: He was a man of great conviction who became a Christian sometime after World War 1. He became a Pentecostal minister who planted churches around the United Kingdom and Ireland in partnership with the Jeffreys' brothers who started the Elim and Assemblies of God churches on the European side of the Atlantic. Many of the churches he planted bare the name "Bethel" today. As well as a preacher he was a pianist and a singer. He composed a new tune to the formerly well known hymn of "I fell in love with the Nazarene." The words are as follow:

Verse 1
"The Master stood in the Judgment Hall of Pilate great and strong,
He stood there silent and alone for all his friends were gone.
They had scattered far and near, and left him with the throng,
No voice of love his heart to cheer, thro' all the morn' so long."

"I fell in love with the Nazarene, "The beautiful Nazarene." 
Whose face with glory was a-light, the fairest I have seen.
Near his side I would abide, with ne'er a veil between,
Since I fell so deep in love with Jesus "The Nazarene."

Verse 2
"His face was fair as lilies white, a halo round his head,
While all around was black as night, their souls thro' sin were dead.
See his hands all bound with thongs, the thorn crown on his brow,
Hark! The Angels mournful song, "All heav'n in sorrow now."

Verse 3
"The angry mob cried out in wrath, "Crucify him now!"
And so he trod Golgotha's Path, The life blood on "His brow."
On on he trod and bear the Cross, But never made a moan
Weak and falling from the loss, of blood yet not a groan."

Verse 4
And when they nail'd him to the Cross, with cruel spikes and deep,
His face diviner grew to me, And I began to weep.
All His anguish quite forgot, I heard him gently pray:
"Father forgive, for they know not the wrong that they have done."

I must confess, I don't know the original tune, and I haven't yet heard the tune my Great Grandfather composed for it. I have however convinced my Mum that when my parents are over to visit at Christmas she will play the tune for me. How do we know the tune? Harold's granddaughter sent me these images via email:

They came with the following message:

"I think it is an appropriate song to remember Harold by as he never got over the love of God, the wonder of his salvation and he had a deep love for the Lord. It is a moving song and anything Harold played was moving and congregations would laugh, cry or worship depending on what Harold did on the piano as he sang. When you hear this song you can imagine the power of God at work when Harold ministered in music.

I remember hearing Harold (tenor) and Nance (alto) singing it. I also remember hearing David singing it. He had a lovely voice, as did all of them. I suppose you know the whole family sang song items together at services."

It has taken me a while to track down the origins of this song. I searched some of the books about old hymns from the 19th and early 20th century but couldn't turn anything up. Eventually however I found a site online that contained "The Weekly Evangel Issue 169, Dec 16th 1916." I believe this was a tract that was given out in the beginning of the Pentecostal movement to people and churches connected with it. In it is the story of Sarah Payne, a former song writer for 'the world' as she said herself. This was the first song she created after "Giving her life to Jesus." It was written within moments of this commitment and nearly burned to ashes a few days later. Fortunately for my Granddad and many many others, it wasn't.


  1. I like very much your statement "The stories you type and the interviews you conduct are all valuable in more ways than to just your family. They contribute to a growing body of information that when pooled together increases the richness of society and the uniqueness of your families smaller or larger role in it."

    I really never thought about that idea. Perhaps that is why bloggers and others enjoy reading the writing of others. While we may not know the family written about we are increasing our knowledge and understanding of what life was like during a specific time and a specific area.

    This is especially helpful and also interesting when we might not have specific details of our own ancestors and relatives who shared the same time and space. Thank you too of sharing the story of Harold. I never thought of sharing the hymns that once might have been sung or played by our ancestors and as in the case of Harold written by him.

    1. Janet, thankyou so much for your words. I love sharing the hymns, particularly because I barely remember them; what then of my children? I would hate for them to lost these parts for history altogether. I'm also glad you enjoyed what I have shares of Harold so far.

  2. Dear Michael. I have a friend who attends the Penralt Baptist Church in Bangor. I have just listened to a sermon(preached on Sunday 28th January) by a man called Donald Poirot who attends that church. In his sermon he mentions your relative Harold and that as a baby Harold took Donald in his arms and blessed him. You can listen to the sermon for yourself. Jan Kelson-Martin ( Hanford, Stoke-on-Trent)

    1. Jan, great to hear from you. However did you find my blog? Do you happen to know where I can find the sermon online?

  3. Dear Michael i am so pleased to hear from my friend in Bangor that you have listened to the sermon and have been in contact with Penralt and Donald. I pray that it will be fruitful. Abundant Blessings Jan.

    1. Yes, Donald has mentioned he will email me later in the week. Thank you for your information and pointing me in the right direction.