Tennessee Ernie Ford was a renowned comedian, singer, and host of the variety show called “The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show” aired on NBC from 1950 to 1961.
Without waning popularity and distinction, Ford saw to it that the musical part of his program always ends with good ole gospel singing. This was a great concern to the network, fearing that it might lead to public contentions. Their fear dissipated when thousands poured in their love and support to Ford’s show-ender. Grateful and emboldened, Ford took it a step further by recording a gospel album entitled “Hymns” in 1956. Overwhelmingly, “Hymns” was on the “Top Album” charts for 277 consecutive weeks. Furthermore, his other album called; “Great Gospel Songs” won a Grammy Award in 1964.
He went on recording and releasing more gospel and spiritual songs; about 80 albums until his passing in 1991 due to liver complications. He was 72. Posthumously, he was inducted into the “Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame” in 1994 for all his notable contributions to the gospel community.
Watch Ford as he sings four of our beloved hymns.
Included below the clip were brief snippets about each hymn.
1. Peace in the Valley
“It was just before Hitler sent his war chariots into Western Europe in the late 1930s. I was on a train going through southern Indiana and saw horses, cows and sheep all grazing together in this little valley. Everything seemed so peaceful. It made me question, “What’s the matter with mankind? Why can’t men live in peace?” Out of those thoughts came “Peace in the Valley.”
(Thomas Dorsey, song writer)
2. Lily of the Valley
A beautiful analogy of Jesus by Charles Fry in 1881. Wordings were attributions from various scripture verses namely Song of Solomon 2:1; 5:10; Psalm27:4; 45:2; and 1 Corinthians 1:30.
3. Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?
Written by an English clergyman, Thomas Shepherd, who took inspiration from the story of Simon Peter’s last days. Tradition tells us that he got crucified upside down on the cross.
The first line, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone” was originally written as “Shall Simon bear the cross alone.”
4. The Ninety and Nine
A poem rendering of Jesus’ parable in Luke 15:3-7 by Miss Elizabeth C. Clephane and was published in The Children’s Hour in 1868. Ira Sankey, a musician who traveled with evangelist Dwight L. Moody discovered the poem from a religious paper and added music to it in 1874.