Theme CD: The Wrath of God

A little over a week ago, I started a series of posts on whether there are enough Southern Gospel songs to record a CD themed around a given topic. We started with songs about family heritage.

This week, let’s tackle a more challenging topic. We cannot fully appreciate God’s mercy and grace until we first grasp the reality of His justice and wrath. Yet despite how clearly Southern Gospel songs lay out other key doctrines, Michael Booth recently searched in vain for a Southern Gospel song on the topic.

Are there, perhaps, a few he missed?


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61 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Ummmm…ummmm…wait, I found one! No wait, never mind, I didn’t. Ummmmm…

  2. As mentioned by someone else “The Judgment” would qualify. I am sure there are others, but one would have to probably go back several decades. Unfortunately even in churches, talking about God’s wrath, his punishment etc. has become out of style and is not politically correct.

    My pastor did preach on it yesterday. He has brought up scripture before about it, but was far more fervent yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t do it every time and definitely talks about God’s grace, but is not one to avoid talking about the less popular things either. He and I have talked several times and he does do it during service some too. I think it is a huge disservice to not do it some.

    Too many people think of God as only love and that “He would never send anyone to hell.” They seem to think that at the end everyone goes to Heaven although they surely know that the only way to Heaven is through Christ (which the pastor was sure to spell out yesterday.)

    • Good thought on “The Judgment.” It does fit the theme, even if I just couldn’t see that one working for the Booth Brothers’ sound!

      (That said: This post isn’t so much a “pick a song for the Booth Brothers” as it is a general “find songs on the topic” brainstorm session.)

      • What group sings The Judgment?

      • The Kingsmen sang it in the ’80’s.

      • Yes, and they also did it on their recent 2009 project that was recorded live at NQC last year.

  3. The Segos, “Sorry, I Never Knew You.”

    • Good one. That’s a sobering song.

  4. I remember an old song called “Standing Outside”. I believe the first line is “Judgment is surely coming”.

    • I was originally going to post that you’d hit on a song I didn’t know. But I checked my collection, and I have a Chuck Wagon Gang rendition from 1964, on The Chuck Wagon Gang’s Best a recording with Dad Carter.

      That is indeed the first line of the first verse.

  5. A song from the redback Church Hymnal: “The Great Judgment Morning”. Not sure who has recorded it…I have an arrangement by the Louvin Brothers, who, of course, aren’t SG.

    I would say “Terrible Time Down There”, but you’re probably looking for more of a serious vein here.

    • Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver recorded it a few years back.

      Yes, I’m looking for songs in a serious vein! 🙂

      • The DLQ arrangement is not all that close to that in the Hymnal, but yeah, it probably is based on the same traditional spiritual.

      • I’m thinking it is – I’m only slightly familiar with both, having only been through each about two times – but I think both had that distinctive line about the drunkard and the person who gave him the drink sinking together into hell. I doubt that was a coincidence.

      • What I like about it is that it goes even further on that thought. It talks about the drunkard, then the “man who gave him his drink”. But then it says “and the people who issued him the license, together in Hell did sink.” Everyone involved.

        Both the Hymnal arrangement and the DLQ arrangement have that verse, in very different melodic form, though.

      • I’ve heard that song sung in church. We really are kind of old-fashioned, if you didn’t believe it before. 😉 (I think I’ve heard it a few times, anyway!)

      • Really, the song’s lyrics are overall great. Even though I have never tasted alcohol, and plan to avoid it for the remainder of my life, there was something about the phrasing of that verse that struck me as quaint and just a wee little bit funny. I don’t really know why, but there was just something about it!

  6. The old spirituals delve into the topic more than modern SG songs…I have quite a few (“Jezebel”, “How Long”, “There’s a Fire Down Yonder”, “I Heard Zion Moan”), all recorded by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, a cappella. These are traditional spirituals that Doyle got from groups like the Golden Gate Quartet.

    He just did another one on his newest Crossroads recording, “My Lord’s Gonna Move This Wicked Race”.

    • Interesting point. I think you’re right.

      To fit the overall feel of their project, I suspect the Booth Brothers were really only looking at songs from the last decade or fifteen years . . . and so, I wonder whether anyone will be able to come up with a modern SG song written within the last decade.

      • And there’s a historical basis for it. You can trace most spirituals primarily to black slaves in America. They sang about two thing: deliverance from their bondage (“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, etc.) and judgment on those who bound them.

      • What about the song “Left Behind” by The Steeles? Ricky Atkinson and Jeff Steele wrote it. It has that cool radio broadcast thing and then the lines “For years we’ve heard predictions of a great event to come” and then also it has the line “but their unbelief won’t stop the coming judgment hand of God”
        I think that one is fitting…isn’t it?

  7. Suggested by a friend via email: “The Last Sunday.”

    I’m amazed I didn’t think of it sooner.

    • Of course…great one. That’s one of the more unique gospel songs I’ve heard.

    • I can’t believe you or I either one didn’t think of that one.

      • …any of the three of us, really. It’s one of the most obvious picks in our genre.

  8. ^ Sorry for replying to the message and not stand alone hahaha

    • No problem – I noticed it anyhow!

  9. Here’s one for you in a sense at least “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”. It is SG in the fact that the Oaks cut it and I can’t think which other SG artist I believe cut it fairly recently.

    • The Larry Norman song?

      • Yes, of course DC Talk did it more recently, but the Oak Ridge Boys did it on their Performance album around 40 years ago. Mark Ellerbee, their drummer, had the lead and Duane and Bill did harmony above.

  10. Another one is “plenty of Time”

    • Roy Tremble offered quite the rendition in the 70s!

      • Yeah, he did, Daniel.

  11. N’Harmony did a song on their last project called “Run On.” I’d think that would be another perfect example. “Run on for a long time, but let me tell you, God Almighty’s gonna cut you down.”

    • Kyle, that’s an OLD spiritual that Elvis Presley recorded in 1966 for his “How Great Thou Art” album…and his version is itself a cover of the Golden Gate Quartet’s version of it in the 1940s.

      Another song that comes to mind along the lines Daniel drew is one that closed the Downings’ fine “Love Beyond Compare” album, a song called “No Time For Jesus”.

    • The Dove Brothers also recorded “Run On.” Johnny Cash did too under the title “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.”

      • In fact, the Johnny Cash song is the ringtone on my cell phone. I get some strange looks when my phone starts up with “Tell that long tongued liar…”

      • Now, that I’m thinking about Cash, there’s a song he recorded called “Belshazzar.”

        The chorus:
        “For he was weighed in the balance and found wanting
        His kingdom was divided, couldn’t stand
        He was weighed in the balance and found wanting
        His houses were built upon the sand”

      • Cash not only wrote “Belshazzar”…it was the very first song he sang for Sam Phillips when he tried out for Phillips’ famous Sun label.

        Although Phillips liked “Belshazzar”, and eventually allowed Cash to record it, he didn’t sign Cash to Sun until Cash showed him that he(Cash)was capable of writing more commercial song material.

        The direct result of that challenge was “Hey Porter”…and as they say, the rest was history!

      • That would be a remarkable ringtone! 😀

  12. The song that immediately came to my mind–although admittedly I haven’t heard it in many years –is “One Day Too Late”. I Googled and found the lyrics-written by Lanny Wolfe ( not the Skillet song with the same name)–and got scared all over again! Seriously, it is a very sobering song that cuts right to the chase.

  13. I don;t think any of these examples really cover what Michael Booth was looking for. All of the examples given touch on the subject lightly but they are not writted directly dealing with the subject. Plenty of songs dealing with the cross and grace….that cover it from first word to last but I can;t think of any songs that from the first verse to the last note deal with the Wrath of God in detail like he was looking for.

    It is important subject and one that should be writted, sung and preached in addition to grace and love.

    Again, I think he was looking for more than a line or a mention in a lyric.

  14. I think what the Booth Brothers came up with in recording “Before the Cross” hit on the topic of God’s wrath rather well!

    • Yes, great song! That does bring us full circle to the point at hand, though, since he had to look outside of Southern Gospel to find it.

  15. As long as we’re including hymns…what about Almost Persuaded?
    That was the invitation hymn the day I went forward at church, oh about 37 years ago.
    And no – the song choice had nothing to do with my decision. I was going up, anyway! 🙂
    “Almost…but lost.”

  16. “Are You Ready?” by Gold City. “It will be a celebration for the ones that chose His Name, but total seperation for those that turned away”. Pretty stong lyric there.

    • Another one I should’ve thought of.

  17. I have wondered about the propriety in dealing with the subject like God’s wrath and judgement in such a light hearted way like “Run On” and “Terrible Time Down There” do. I wonder if anyone else has thought about that. Songs like “The Last Sunday”, “The Judgement”, and “Plenty of Time” seem to have music that is more consistent with the message of the song.

    • Many others have wondered the same.

      • “Terrible Time Down There” is very little more than a skit on “Wonderful Time Up There” – which makes it all the worse!

        It is sobering that everyone seems to be struggling with this topic.

        I found an old hymn in Sankey’s [no 432 or Sacred Songs 549] which lyrically fits the topic, yet is not shrouded in morbidity. Called “Tis the Hand of God on the Wall”, it sets the scene for final judgement in the context of Belshazzar’s Feast.

        The chorus runs,

        ‘Tis the hand of God on the wall
        ‘Tis the hand of God on the wall
        Shall the record be ‘found wanting!’
        Or shall it be ‘Found trusting!’
        While that hand is writing on the wall?

        I don’t have author details or a set melody, but it would make a balladic quartet piece.

        A bass lead on the 2nd stanza would be awesome –

        See the brave captive Daniel,
        As he sttod before the throng,
        And rebuked the haughty monarch
        for his mighty deeds of wrong;
        As he read out the writing –
        ’twas the doom of one and all,
        For the kingodm now was finished –
        Said the hand upon the wall!

      • ‘stood’ & ‘kingdom’. Excuse the typos – before SoGoBro kicks me clean out of the park!!

      • @Daniel – Correct, they have!

  18. How about “you better pray” by Ernie Haase and SS on “Great Love”

    George Younce wrote it and it deals with your sins finding you out. Sounds kind of wrathful but maybe not what you’re looking for here

    • Yeah, lyrically it’s God’s wrath all the way, but like Daniel said, we’re thinking serious stuff here. That’s one a little on the light side. 😉

  19. Has anyone mentioned “Plenty of Time” and “Please Search the Book Again” yet? “Plenty of Time” isn’t specifically about the judgment, but that’s the obvious theme it’s centered around. Plus, it might suit the BB’s style! The other song was done by Jerry Goff; I’ve no idea when.

    (I figured I better jump to the end and put the ones I was thinking about, because there sure won’t be anything left for me to say by the time I finish reading 51 comments!)

    • I like that. 🙂

      • I actually didn’t see anyone else come up with “Please Search…” My dad had a couple of old Jerry Goff recordings taped off, probably from the ’70s. I listened to them a lot. And it’s a good, sobering song.

  20. Before I forget – “Where You Gonna Hide” by the Cathedrals in 1992 on Best of Times. I *love* the way Glen sings that song!

  21. Well, I guess I killed it! 😆

    • Your answers were so good that nobody else durst speak . . . 😀

  22. When looking at this topic, of course, i Immediately thought of “the judgement” and even though its not a “wrath” song, I kept hearing the Lefevre Qt version of “days of elijah” playing in my head…that would be a neat way to end the cd.