Guest Post: Encore Series #4: Hide Me Behind the Cross

This is a guest post from NewSoGoFan.

Gold City fans will most likely recognize the song “Hide Me Behind the Cross” from their 1999 release Signed, Sealed, and Delivered.  However, it seems that once Jay Parrack left the group, this song gradually fell out of their regular set. The only Youtube I’ve been able to find of the group doing the song is from a Gold City reunion, where Jay carried it as on the studio cut.

I personally think this is a shame, as the song is beautiful and certainly doesn’t deserve to fade into obscurity. For those who don’t know the song, it is a prayer that God would take our imperfections and clothe them with His righteousness, so that we are hidden in the brightness of His glory. The idea is clearly taken from what Paul says in Galatians about how we are crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live. And yet at the same time, it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives through and in us. “And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Compare with the chorus of this song:

Hide me behind the cross,
Where my gains become as loss.
And only Your glory is in view.

Your power will be revealed
The more that I am concealed.
Hide me behind the cross
So the world sees only You.

The entire lyric is exceedingly thoughtful and well-crafted, full of truth and meaning. The music complements it perfectly.

It would be truly sad if this piece were to die with the singer who initially popularized it. Therefore, since Gold City appears to have retired it, I propose that it be brought back.

Who should do it? My suggestion might surprise some readers, but I think Signature Sound could take this song and give it a truly lovely treatment. As for the arrangement, I personally would love to hear Ernie Haase put his stamp on it, but some might argue that this would be too similar to the initial cut. So an alternative would be to start the song in a lower key and have Doug Anderson lead the first half of it. The combined strength and tenderness of his voice could communicate the lyric very convincingly. But after the first chorus, it might work to have a sudden key change several steps up (as opposed to the half-step key change in the Gold City cut) and hand over the lead to Ernie, who would then carry the second verse and chorus.  This could be very powerful and would certainly raise the roof performed live.

Another excellent possibility would be the Mark Trammell Quartet. Since Mark is himself a former Gold City member, it would be very natural for him to begin incorporating the song into his group’s repertoire. However, their version would no doubt be very similar to the original… unless they gave it to Pat Barker, perhaps?

Hmmmm. Your thoughts?

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59 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Not sure about about EHSS doing it but the MTQ wouldn’t be bad. Actually i think Legacy Five would do it best.

    Off of the same album, Gold City will hopefully bring back “My Saviours Precious Feet” on their tribute album to Doug.

    • You know, I didn’t write this column, but I suggested Pat Barker once NSF suggested the Mark Trammell Quartet. The original draft had that it would be close to the original if MTQ did it, to which I observed, “not if Pat Barker sings it,” and NSF graciously incorporated the suggestion.

      It didn’t really hit me fully until that exchange, but here’s a thought: There are a few elite-level vocalists in Southern Gospel to whom you can hand anything in any style (done within the genre) and expect a matchless performance. Doug Anderson, TaRanda Greene, Arthur Rice, et cetera. I would suggest that, bass singer or not, Pat Barker deserves to be named on that short list.

      • You could be right, although I’d have to hear more of Pat Barker.

        I love Doug, but I think he was even better six years ago.

        Taranda is a brave lady, and she has my full respect. However, I have to be honest and say that her style isn’t my cup of tea.

      • Daniel,

        Isn’t it strange that when I found this song and submitted it to the group, there were some who thought it was just another song… me its the most powerful lyric of any song i’ve heard in at least 25 years. The song would be best suited for a group who has a very high, very powerful, very seasoned tenor. Emotion is 50% of the delivery for this one.

      • That is indeed strange! But it’s not a first – as two more recent examples, the Booth Brothers had to be talked into cutting “The Blind Man Saw it All” and the Dove Brothers weren’t too sure about “I Can Pray.”

      • I’m honored you stopped by, Mark! That is truly fascinating!

      • Mr. Trammell, somehow I’m not surprised it was you who brought that song to Gold City. A great lyric, indeed. Hope you noticed all the people recommending that you guys bring it back. Put yourself at lead, put it in the key of A, with a transposition to B-flat for the 2nd verse, and bring the house down. 🙂

        Don’t know if you will revisit this, but I wanted to let you know that I’ll be seeing you next Saturday here in South Carolina. This will be my first time meeting my favorite singer in the history of gospel music, my first time seeing my favorite current group in southern gospel, and my first time seeing any group in concert not named the Inspirations. So yeah, I’m just a little bit excited. 🙂

      • Strange world, isn’t it? Mosie Lister told me that “Goodbye World, Goodbye” was turned down by every singer he brought it to until, finally, the Statesmen decided to give it a try. We all know the rest of the story 😉 . Thanks for posting, Mark! It’s nice to hear comments from the artist’s perspective.

    • I think that EHSS has the best sound of those three. So for me it was simply a matter of giving it to the best. I like Legacy Five, but they just don’t have the blend EHSS has.

      As for MTQ, it was an interesting thought, and honestly I’d have to listen to more of MTQ to be sure. But you know, they’d have to hand it off to the tenor sooner or later. And Ernie Haase is matchless. So the choice is still easy. 🙂

      • Ehh… I’m afraid I don’t agree with that! lol. But, I suppose that is expected 😉 . I, personally, have never been that impressed by Ernie. I don’t know what makes him a matchless tenor. I think L5 could do it vocally, but I don’t think it’s their style. If I had the choice of any group to give it to, it would be Brian Free & Assurance. IMO, it fits Brian to a T 😉

      • Naomi, have you ever watched Ernie’s performance of “I Want to See Jesus” with the Cathedrals? It is well worth a watch!

        Actually though, the one I always give to people who say they aren’t impressed by Ernie is “An Unexpected Cross.” Go find it on Rhapsody or something and hit play. An incredible vocal on an incredibly tender, moving song. There is no way you could complain of “loudness” or “shrillness” in his voice there (even though I think those are groundless complaints anyway, LOL).

        Oh yes, and I, personally, have never been that bowled over by Brian Free. It’s not that I hate him, I think he’s talented, it’s just that I don’t like that somewhat thin, nasal style. But to each his own. 😉

      • I’m not saying that Ernie can’t sing or anything; he’s a great tenor. I’ve just never considered him to phenomenal. And about Brian Free… I love Brian, but he’s not the world’s best tenor either… I just think the song would fit him vocally. Daniel, giving the lead to Jeremy is an neat idea… I would have to hear it! lol.

      • Yes, and we all know who your favorite tenor is (at least I think we do). If he is who I think he is, I think he’s great too. 🙂

      • You know, I think Brian Free could do a great job on this one, since his tone and placement is relatively similar to Jay Parrack’s. But if BFA does it, I’d actually like to see their bass, Jeremy Lile, featured.

      • Brian Free wouldn’t be BAD, but I’m just hearing a warmer tone on this one. And actually, Jay Parrack was less nasal than Brian to begin with. But, I’m having an even harder time hearing it as a bass feature, I must admit. 😀

        Overall, you guys are right that a BFA rendition would be similar to the Gold City flavor. But the reason I suggested Signature Sound was that I thought they could do better than Gold City.

      • I do like Naomi’s BF&A idea.

        As to the rest of you, sometimes I like Brian’s tone more, sometimes less. But his voice control blows me away. I don’t have a copy of it, but I’ve heard “Take Another Look,” and it astounds me.

        My favorite Ernie song might be “The Ground is Level (at the Foot of the Cross).” It’s on iTunes from his solo days. As you’ve heard me say before, I really like Ernie in his lower registers.

      • I had trouble getting into all of the songs on Ernie’s solo albums, but the vox were consistently excellent. There’s one really cute song on Never Alone called “I Won’t Look at the Lions” where I can’t tell whether he’s doing a duet with somebody on verse two or just singing a low harmony part! I think it is somebody else, but the first line of that verse is definitely him, and I love the sudden switch from warm, low register to lighter, high register. Not every tenor can do that!

      • Hmmm, is that on the same album as the song I mentioned? I mean, is it available on iTunes. I only have a couple of solo songs by him, but I really like them.

      • I have “I Won’t Look at the Lions” by Crossway in their early days. It’s a Rodney Griffin song, although I had liked it a long time before I realized that. They had a fantastic brass arrangement on it. Anyway, all that to say I like the song, and if Ernie did a good arrangement of it, I should look it up and try to get it.

      • Yes Amy, it’s on that same album. “An Unexpected Cross” is also on that album, and I suggest you download it to understand why I never stop talking about it. 😀

        Are you sure it was written by Rodney Griffin? Because I found a page somewhere saying that Ernie wrote it with Joel Lindsay. Are you thinking of the one that goes, “Daniel did not look at the lions, Steven did not look at the stones, David did not look at Goliath, though Goliath looked so big and strong…?”

      • Oh never mind, I looked it up, and it is the same song. I like the big band sound, but Ernie’s arrangement has more of a country/bluegrass sound—terrific fiddle and piano.

      • OK, I’ve got to get the rest of those.

        Were you able to verify the songwriter on that other? I think I saw that printed in the album credits, but I’m … well, I am 90% sure. I think if it had been Ernie I would have noticed that.

      • On the big band aspect of it – It’s kind of funny, but this is my song to turn on at the end of a really bad day, when my nerves are wound up. I crank up the brass and drums as loud as I can stand and let the frustration dissipate!

      • I know exactly what you mean! When I’m feeling wrung out and tired I listen to “Happy Rhythm” or something similar—the Signature Sound guys have a way of making me forget whatever I was discouraged or frazzed about five minutes ago. 🙂

  2. Small world… I played this song just yesterday from a live recording – and thought someone should dust this song off and start singing it again. I naturally went to the MTQ – no doubt it would be superb. I also thought of Gus Gaches singing this with L5. This could also be a very good trio song – not the Booth Brothers as it does not really fit them but perhaps John Rulapaugh’s new group. Great song… It deserves to be heard again. Who worte it?

    • Well, the Booth Brothers just did a whole album with songs like this… did ya miss it? 😀 Actually, I agree—Declaration was a nice stretch, but the BBs are really more comfortable with something less big.

      • I don’t know that they will ever do another album as packed with “big” songs as Declaration was… but I think that Michael will continue to use songs that have the same style and doctrinal strength… even if it’s just one song per CD. I think Declaration was a bit of a game-changer for the Booth Brothers 😉
        I suppose they could sing this one… but they would have to tweak it to fit them. I have a hard time imagining a trio singing it, but if anyone could, it would be the Booth Brothers! lol

  3. Great, great song. One thing is for sure…whoever records it will have to lower the key. Parrack and Wilburn are sky-high. To answer JEB, the writers are Rebecca Peck and Angeline McKeithen.

    I can hear MTQ doing it lower, with Mark’s baritone lead. Of course, Mark can sing anything he wants in my book.

    • Sorry…that should be Angelina McKeithen.

    • I’m not so sure they would have to lower the key. I suggested lowering the key in the beginning because I suggested having Doug kick it off. But Ernie can go higher than people think. He just holds it back a lot of the time because he’s saving his voice. And Doug can hit the roof—just stack him on top of Devin and watch him fly.

  4. I consider this to be my baseline theme song for singing. It is always in the back of my mind when I have to sing because I always want God to be in the foreground when I sing. I only ever want to be the messenger and not the main focus. Singing gospel music is a hard balance between keeping oneself humble and trying not to be disappointed when no one compliments you. This song helps me keep what’s important in focus. I would love to hear it brought back.

    • Well said, Levi. Well said.

  5. AMEN Levi!

    I agree MTT or EHSS. However Jay’s high effortless tenor is hard to match. I understand he’s still as good as ever. While there are numerous great quartets out there who could try it… it had a certain sound with that match of GOD given talent at that point in time. Those types of things ae always hard to re-master in my opinion.

    • Well it is hard to imagine a re-working of something whose original you really loved, I’ll admit!

      • NSF, I don’t know the song, so no bias towards the original – the lyrics sound excellent and very scriptural. i think EH&SS would be a great fit, and I am all for giving Doug the lead part!

        Not sure how much to lower it – Doug can get up there, with or above Devin as you said…

        Not so sure either that he was “better six years ago”, I think he blended very well with Shane and that Ryan overshadowed him a little as the main lead. I think Doug just needs more top solo features.

        Go for it Ernie!

      • Well, Doug certainly has a wonderfully elastic range, but if you heard the original, it does start a wee high for Doug to sound perfectly natural.

        Perhaps “better six years ago” is not quite what I had in mind. I think what I meant was that I preferred his style six years ago. As I’ve said before, I think that in the later years of the group, he’s developed a habit of singing with a somewhat nasal tone for “bluesy” effect on certain numbers. It’s just a deliberate stylistic thing that I wish he wouldn’t do quite so often, and I get the impression that he was more consistently pure in the group’s early years. But there’s no denying his considerable ability.

  6. I could very well see L5 doing this song; Gus Gaches is an elite vocalist who could take this song, and give it a treatment that few other singers could. To the comment about EHSS’s blend being better than L5’s, that IMO is a stretch. L5 has some of the best Quartet blend I have heard in a long time…(check out their new project) Though I do really like the blend that EHSS has built, so it is a coin toss for me..I do think this particular song would fit L5’s style/sound more…

    • EHSS has built a repertoire based in large measure on light, up-beat stuff. So I can totally see why you might more easily hear this type of ballad being done by a more easy-going group.

      That said, I think EHSS really thrives on the ballads too. In fact, it’s the ballads I most enjoy hearing them sing. I think covering this song could be a good step towards a somewhat more ballad-oriented repertoire. (Hint, hint, Ernie, if you’re reading this… LOL. :-))

      • I see what your saying… I also like EHSS more when they do the ballads. L5/EHSS are my two favorite quartets in the business; so I get to enjoy two different great quartets, singing two completely different (but yet in a way the same) style, and like them both very much! That is what I love about Southern Gospel Music…

      • Me too! It’s like a buffet with multiple kinds of great food. 😀 (Oops, another one of my famous food analogies…)

      • That’s great; I love food analogies (I love food lol) 🙂

      • Then you should like my Kevin Williams review—it even mentions apple cider (!) 🙂

  7. MTT would be great, but I also think Triumphant could do it well!

    • I hadn’t thought of them! As a group, I think they could pull it off really well, but I can’t hear David singing the lead line. Maybe Scotty… That would be a unique arrangement!

  8. How about Greater Vision? either lower it and feature Gerald or let Chris have the lead.

    A mixed group like the Collingsworth Family or Crist Family might have an interesting take.

    • Perhaps. But you know, I think this song is just made for a quartet. It has “quartet song” written all over it. I just don’t think it would be the same with a trio or a mixed group.

      • Not a quartet song at all. It’s an inspirational ballad that just about any type of group could cover.

      • Any group COULD cover it, of course. I just happen to think that the quartet sound works best here.

  9. How bout the Blackwood Brothers?


    • As long as his group leaves off the dry ice/smoke on this one, it could be very nice. 😉

  11. When Ernie did “I Won’t look At The Lions”, it was the Greater Vision guys trading lead lines with him on the second verse.

    “An Unexpected Cross” is a great song. I always thought if musical theatre tenor Michael Crawford did another inspirational album that somebody should pitch it to him.

    • Thanks Clarence! And you know come to think of it, that did sound like Gerald Wolfe on that verse. 🙂

    • OK, I definitely have to get that song!

      • It is not on iTunes any more. And that is where I got it first. That’s disgusting. 🙁

      • But you download the song on Amazon Amy! All is not lost!

      • OK, I’ll check it out there! 😀

    • Oh hey, Clarence, would you happen to know who wrote “An Unexpected Cross?” I’ve always wanted to know who wrote that.

  12. Concerning BF&A singing this, do you think Jermey be able to sing the bass part in the same octave ?

    Something just crossed my mind……..Brian Hudson leading it. Keyed down, maybe? What do you think?

    I beleive Gold City could aptly bring it back right now.

    Would like to hear Mark Tramell and/or Danny Riley do “Calvary’s Hill”.

    Also, “Mighty Army Band” would be a good one to bring back.