Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard / FOX 5 Atlanta

Merle Haggard left this world before us.  We hope and pray that he made it through the pearly gates and is now singing in hillbilly heaven. We are left with his long list of songs that can suit different occasions. This time, let’s gather our thoughts, as we recollect Haggard’s songs that wake our spiritual sensibility. Though The Hag is not as popular as the Carter Family in the genre of gospel music, he had creditable performances for sets of tried-and-true religious songs.

These songs are not arranged according to a certain category of ranking. They are all equally inspiring and worth to listen.

WHY ME

“Why Me” is one of the gospel country songs that are mostly covered by various artists. Written by Kris Kristofferson, the song received a Gold Certification from the RIAA in 1973. Kristofferson crafted the song at the point in time where he was undergoing an emotional and spiritual crisis.  He got his inspiration from their local church and his own realization towards living according to God’s will.

These songs are evidence that a beautiful end-result can come out of the bluest time in our life. It’s just a matter of bringing out the natural artistic gift hidden inside of you.

LORD, DON’T GIVE UP ON ME

Lord, don’t give up on me I’ll do right someday, Lord, don’t tune me out, don’t turn away
I’m just a wandering pilgrim all alone, Lord, I’m only halfway home
And Lord, I’m only halfway home

The Hag sounded very personal on this particular song, asking for God’s patience on him. Haggard was very aware that can’t fully accomplish his purpose and goals without the guiding hand of the Almighty. He also acknowledged his imperfection and that he was trying to make things right. This song is a perfect hymn of humility and petition.

JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE

Haggard stated that a gospel album won’t be complete without this traditional gospel song. The hymn highlights the message of 2 Corinthians 5:7 which reminds us to “walk by faith, not by sight,” and James 4:8 which states, “Come near to God and He will come near you.”

The origin of the song traces back its history from the African American slaves, who sang about walking by the Lord’s side while they were plowing the fields. The lyrics were supplemented by a songwriter named Morris, who put the song into publication after hearing a station porter singing the hymn.

Haggard’s version may not be the most successful one, but he made the song his own, and delivered with sincerity.

The seeker

“The Seeker” was first recorded by Dolly Parton in 1975. She described the song as her “talk to God.”

Reach out and lead me guide me and keep me
In the shelter of your care each day
I am a seeker and you are a keeper
You are a leader won’t you show me the way
Hey you are a mountain from which there flows a fountain
So let its water wash my sins away
Cause I am a seeker and you are a teacher
You are a leader won’t you teach me the way

For a people who recognize their nothingness without God, the words in this song are mostly the content of their prayer. Each day is brings the mystery of what may come next. And if we entrust everything to God, He will take care of us. See God as a leader who directs the right way and a teacher who passionately guides you until you learn what ought to be known.

We’ve only touched some of Merle Haggard’s gospel collection. Please check our gospel page for more detailed features about songs that uplift our spiritual state. May the good Lord shower His grace and kindness upon you and the people you care about. 

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