While Johnny Cash took the melancholic and solemn route on his take of gospel songs, the Oak Ridge Boys, on the other hand, brought balance with their lively and joyful singing. In 1977, they brought the hymn Just a Little Talk with Jesus to the limelight of mainstream media to the horror of many gospel purists and traditionalists. Of course, there was no shortage of differing opinions and views regarding the quartet’s stance on the secular versus religious. For that, we could always agree to disagree on certain points. Finding a common ground though, we could appreciate the quartet’s effort to publicize their faith and friendship with Jesus.
Their casual and relaxed rendition normalizes “prayer” which simply means to chat with Jesus. (Well, that is if you consider him a real Person and not imaginary.) Then there is group member Joe Bonsall who is also an acknowledged author. As a writer himself, he surely had known that effective communication means to use terms that everyone could understand. Had they tried to pick a hymn with lots of archaic and religious words, the expectant mass consumers would not be able to relate.
Moving beyond the Oakridge boys’ choice of recording this hymn, here are some bits of a background to Just A Little Talk with Jesus:
1. It was written by a Baptist pastor and gospel choir director, Cleavant Derricks in the 1930’s. Living in the midst of great depression, he came up with a song that inspired not just the believers in his era, but those who would follow Jesus in the following years.
2. His lyrical style was poetic with rhymes and degrees, e.g: (He will) hear our faintest cry (and we will) answer by and by. The melody has always been upbeat; a fitting choice as talking with Jesus should make your burden lighter.
Regardless of the era and turmoil, we could be facing, there is no denying that Just A Little Talk with Jesus is a quick favorite of everybody who would listen.
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