The Grand New Hymns

Lee Black has written or co-written numerous Southern Gospel hit songs, including the #1 Brian Free & Assurance hit “I Want To Be That Man.” But he doesn’t only write Southern Gospel hit songs; he also writes modern hymns on the side. Here is an example:

Here’s another.

Lee hasn’t been the only one writing songs reminiscent of the grand old hymns. Dianne Wilkinson has written several through the years, from “Of Thee I Sing” (Greater Vision) to “I Am Free” (Mark Trammell Trio) to the recent “Man of Sorrows” (Mark Trammell Quartet). When “Man of Sorrows” came out earlier this year, I noticed a comment criticizing the song for not sounding like a traditional Southern Gospel big ballad. I didn’t reply, since online arguments are usually futile and counterproductive, but I did think, “It wasn’t written to be a big ballad; it was written to be a hymn.” There’s no point in criticizing a dog for not looking like a cat!

There is and should always be a place in our genre for doctrinally sound, Biblically rich lyrics with majestic melodies. To their credit, Southern Gospel has always found a place for the grand old hymns. We need to make sure we also have a place for the grand new hymns.

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11 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. It is amazing to me that people hold on to old values of music. And can deny something as beautiful and as powerfully written as the song above. It doesn’t matter if it is old or new hymn or
    Ballad. If it gets God’s word out there that’s what is important. And I think that the Light and the Glory does that in every sense of the word of God.

  2. These are fantastic songs. I am glad to hear about these song writers and thank you for bringing them to our attention. I love SG but it is good to hear others also.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this post. As a former worship pastor and currently touring with a fulltime, bi-vocational SG quartet, I’m in churches every week that are still in the midst of, at times, very bloody worship wars. It’s gone on ever since Lucifer was cast out of Heaven and I’m sure the fight will still be here until the Lord calls us home. That being said, I’ve grown so weary of the labels of everything (SG, P & W, Contemporary, traditional hymn, modern hymn, etc.) Praying that all will one day realize that the songs that last are because they are true, not because of a particular musical style. Baskin Robins Ice Cream is available in at least 31 different flavors for a reason and maybe someday, the church and radio stations realize this also. To everyone who sings the Gospel, regardless of style, keep singing the Gospel. Keep singing songs that encourage the body. Keep singing songs of deliverance, healing, salvation, eternal life. Keep singing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ did not die on the cross for a particular style of music. He died so that we might live. God bless everyone who writes, sings or preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    • Amen and Amen. Well said.

  4. What is the real difference between SG, hymns and so on? If the songs tell the story of Jesus death, burial and resurrection is it just the music. I’m not a singer but I just like gospel music and how it speaks to me.

    • Yes, it is more a musical difference than a lyrical difference.

  5. Daniel, I couldn’t agree with you more regarding “Man of Sorrows” from Mark Trammell Quartet’s “Your Walk Talks” project. That is a beautifully written song that echoes back to the grand old hymns of the church. While it is a different “beat”, the song instantly reminded me of songs like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and other classic hymns. And while I love the “new” songs, especially stuff like “Still Feelin’ Fine” by the Booth Brothers or “Lookin’ for the Grace” by Greater Vision or even “Don’t Stop Running” off the same aforementioned new MTQ project, it’s songs like “Man of Sorrows” that hearken me back to our old Sunday Morning Church Worship Services and direct my thoughts to a specific scripture (just as the song did….when I hear it, I see Isaiah 53 come flashing into view”). So I would say to Southern Gospel Fans who are criticial of the song, please don’t forget that the most important word in the term “Southern Gospel Music” is not “Southern”….it’s “Gospel”. And hymns are the age-old worship music by which the church has lifted up the Gospel in song. And I’m glad to say that Southern Gospel writers like Dianne Wilkerson, Rodney Griffin, Jim Brady and Scott Inman and performers like Mark Trammell and Gerald Wolfe have insured that hymns stay alive and a very integral part of Southern Gospel music. And for those who like hymns, the NQC Red Book Sing-A-Long last year that Gerald hosted was all about the hymns of the church. I hope they include that again this year at NQC. Also, Gerald and Greater Vision have out a great new project with nothing but the old hymns of the Red Back Hymnal! Hymns and Southern Gospel Music have always….and I’m sure shall continue to always, go hand – in hand!

  6. Daniel,
    What a nice surprise to find this today! Dianne Wilkinson messaged me to tell me you posted these hymns. Thanks for using them.

    I love writing them. Unfortunately, they are really hard to get cut. So, rather than letting them languish on my hard drive as never heard work tapes, I thought I would at least start making rough videos of them just to share with family and friends on Facebook. Thank you for sharing them with a broader audience!

    • It’s my pleasure. I wish every CD I reviewed/featured here had one or two songs of this nature.

      • This song really brightened up my Friday night! I’ll admit it was a very unexpected pleasure and
        it bowled me over. Thank you for writing and performing it, and thank our (always unexpected) Editor for bringing it to us here at SGJ.

  7. Please,somebody record this wonderful song. It desevers to be heard!!!