Have you ever heard of Stuart Hamblen? I wouldn’t have recognized the name until a couple of days ago when our Sunday School teacher played a video in which Jimmy Dean interviewed him. That’s when I discovered he wrote several of my favorite songs from my youth.
My grandmother used to play the piano and sing—although you had to love her to sit in the same room with her singing. She would sing songs like “Oh Susanna” and “Mockingbird Hill” and others that date back to the 1950’s or earlier.
One of the songs she liked was “Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sun Shine In,” which was recorded by Rosemary Clooney in 1954. It talks about how Satan runs from the sunshine.
One that I remember her playing all the time was “It Is No Secret.” First recorded by Russ Hamblen in 1952, this song has been recorded by several dozen different singers and groups ranging from Ernest Tubb to Elvis Presley to the Blackwood Brothers.
As I said, I wasn’t aware of Stuart Hamblen’s name, but I loved these latter two songs when I was growing up. He could preach a beautiful sermon in the simple words of his songs.
One of the early television shows my sister and I watched faithfully in the 1950’s was “Your Hit Parade.” Each week the cast of Dorothy Collins, Gisele MacKenzie, Snooky Lanson, and Russell Arms would sing the top ten hits of the week, starting with number ten and moving upward.
There were a lot of great songs in that era, but one in particular I always loved to hear was “This Old House.” Russell Arms would always sing the line, “Well I ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer, ain’t a-gonna need this house no more,” in his deepest bass voice, and I always loved hearing that.
Stuart Hamblen did a great job of getting God’s name into the popular music of the day. I don’t know why it took me so long to become aware of him. Here’s an interview Jimmy Dean did with him in 1963.
What popular song from your youth talked about God?
What songs from back in your youth do your remember fondly but can’t remember who wrote them?
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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