A Hymn for the Crazy, Merry Month of May

May 15, 2023

You may have heard of the Irish folk song, "The Merry, Merry Month of May" but since we're all about good hymns here, let's consider a hymn for what I like to call "The Crazy, Merry Month of May."

May is crazy because for many there are just so many "to dos" on our calendars: graduations and all the end-of-the-school year stuff.  But it's merry, too. After all, summer is coming and perhaps your family like mine has several May anniversaries and a whole lot of birthdays on your calendar.  I've lost count of how many people I know with a birthday on May 21.

To help us keep our sanity and a joyful perspective through the busy-ness, I'm fond of the soul stabilizing hymn based on Scripture, "Surely Goodness and Mercy." It's a powerful reminder that all the days of our lives are in God's good and gracious hands.

This hymn was written in 1958 by two well known gospel music writers, John W. Peterson and Alfred B. Smith.

One day they sat at Alfred's piano, improvising back and forth, and turned to Psalm 23 for inspiration.
Alfred remembered a story he had heard from one of the grandchildren of Philip Bliss, another key figure in hymnody.

As a boy, Bliss's first school teacher, Miss Murphy, helped the class memorize the 23rd Psalm. Little Philip thought the Psalm said, "surely good Miss Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life."

After recalling this story, the two songwriters decided to make the phrase "surely goodness and mercy" the focus of their new hymn.

Surely Goodness and Mercy

by John W. Peterson and Alfred B. Smith

A pilgrim was I, and a wandering,
In the cold night of sin I did roam,
When Jesus the kind Shepherd found me,
And now I am on my way home.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life;
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life.

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,
And I shall feast at the table spread for me;
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life.

He restoreth my soul when I'm weary,
He giveth me strength day by day;
He leads me beside the still waters,
He guards me each step of the way.

When I walk through the dark lonesome valley,
My Savior will walk with me there;
And safely His great hand will lead me
To the mansions He's gone to prepare.



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