September 17, 2010

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Beautiful song remains a wonderful memory

Shirley Vogler MeisterOne evening months ago, I flipped through the possibilities on TV to find something soothing to watch after a stressful day.

Despite “surfing” countless channels, I wasn’t seeing any appropriate programs.
Finally, I found a movie featuring two women singing a beautiful, soothing song, but wasn’t familiar with it. However, the tune has stayed with me ever since!

So I mentioned this song in an e-mail to other members of a Catholic Writers List, which serves as an Internet support group.

After sharing the first stanza of the song, I was pleased when Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda responded to my e-mail query. She monitors our group and is always an inspiration.

She suggested a website that provided all the words to the song and noted that the hymn was sung in the 1985 Academy Award-winning movie The Trip to Bountiful. I remember that wonderful film.

She also noted that the song was used at a memorial service for American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., on April 8, 1968.

Coincidentally, I had already wondered if the song was ever used at funerals. A few other Catholic writers indicated that the song originated as a Protestant hymn, but that Catholics sometimes ask for it at funerals. I hope the following song—now in public domain—by Will L. Thompson (1847-1909) will be sung at mine:

“Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling,
“Calling for you and for me;
“See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
“Watching for you and for me.”

This refrain follows each verse:
“Come home, come home,
“You who are weary, come home;
“Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
“Calling, O Sinner, come home!”

“Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading?
“Pleading for you and for me?
“Why should we linger and heed not his mercies,
“Mercies for you and for me?”

“Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
“Passing for you and for me;
“Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
“Coming for you and for me.”

“O for the wonderful love He has promised,
“Promised for you and for me!
“Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
“Pardon for you and for me.”

The TV movie I watched was A Prairie Home Companion based on the Minnesota Public Radio and National Public Radio program created by Garrison Keillor. To learn more about Keillor and this program, log on to

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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