Songs From Numbers: High and Lifted Up


Each week, we go through the books of the Bible, looking at a song that illustrates a passage from each book.

Numbers 21 tells the story of how the Israelites rebelled against Moses and against God, asking: “Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread” (Numbers 21:5, KJV).

God replied by sending fiery serpents among the people; many of the Israelites died from bites from these snakes. This brought the Israelites to repentance; they confessed their sin, and asked Moses to pray that God would take the serpents away from them.

God told Moses: “Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (verse 8, KJV). Moses did.

Dianne Wilkinson used this passage as a starting point for one of the all-time greatest Cathedrals anthems, “High and Lifted Up”:

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Introducing Letters To The Editor

Two weeks ago, this site became Southern Gospel Journal. In the announcement, I noted that it is a change in perspective, not merely a name change. The re-branding included several new or re-launched columns, and an expanded “about” section for readers new to Southern Gospel (or to Christianity altogether).

One change remains: It is time to upgrade the comments section.

Ever since blogging became popular, many blog’s comment sections have been free-for-alls where anything goes. I have never been comfortable with this notion. Conversations about this genre are valuable, if they are quality conversations: Insights, respectfully expressed.

The new name for our discussion section, “Letters To The Editor,” is more consistent with the new branding and with this vision. As before, we will still welcome quality discussion. On every post, we will publish the submissions that are most thoughtful and insightful and within the basic comment guidelines. Also, every week, we will highlight a few of the week’s most worthy letters to the editor in our Friday News Roundup column.

Around 95% of the people who visit this website never post a comment. For some visitors, this website is their first exposure to current Southern Gospel culture. Let’s set them a good example. But, more importantly, this site has a fair number of international visitors; for a few, this website may be their first introduction to how Christians treat one another. We must be mindful of the example we set for them through our words and deeds.

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Friday News Roundup #209


Worth Knowing

  • Mercy’s Well has hired pianist Josh Simpson. He has played for The Hoppers, Gold City, and Brian Free & Assurance.
  • In the latest issue of Gospel Music Quarterly, posted here, IMC Concerts announced that there will be additional Cathedrals Family Reunion concerts in 2014.
  • The Hoskins Family signed a booking agreement with Michael Davis’s Dominion Agency.
  • The Akins announced that they are going to leave their booking agency and bring their booking in-house so that they can have more direct contact with churches before each concert and better understand that church’s needs and focus.
  • Liberty Quartet lead singer Doug Wiley is entering the studio to record a solo album. The CD will be produced by Gordon Mote. Wiley commented to Southern Gospel Journal that he is not leaving Liberty Quartet; he is “just adding some solo dates.”
  • Daywind has announced that they will be offering lead sheets for sale with some of their soundtracks.
  • The Perrys are in concert at Lake Gibson Church of the Nazarene tomorrow night, February 1; the concert will be live-streamed for free here. Lake Gibson has a full calendar of Southern Gospel’s leading groups scheduled over the next two months; this is worthy of special mention thanks to interest in Tracy Stuffle’s ongoing stroke recovery, and in his son J.K.’s vocals filling in at the bass part.
  • Somewhat off topic: Two worthwhile reads this this week, on completely unrelated topics, are a post on the value of Sunday evening services and an analysis of proposed revisions to copyright law.

Worth Watching

Worth Discussing

Are there any other major Southern Gospel news stories from the week that we haven’t discussed yet?

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The Crist Family to Retire

Yesterday afternoon, the Crist Family announced that they will be retiring by the end of the year. They will complete their annual February West Coast Tour, and perform limited farewell concerts for the remainder of the year.

The announcement stated: “With John and Tami Starkel’s recent decision to pursue some new paths at this time in their lives, along with the Crist girls getting married and looking to start families of their own, it is evident that this chapter in The Crist Family is coming to a close.”

Manager and lead singer Rich Crist commented: “One thing is certain—life will have changes. It was a major time of change ten years ago when God called us in to full-time ministry. Now, with this change, we are looking forward to see where He takes us next. It has been a wonderful journey and we will forever be grateful for the friendships we have made along the way.”

The group added: “We thank God, Crossroads, The Harper Agency, our peers and all of the Southern Gospel Music fans. Thank you for the love and support you have shown to us along the way. We will always love you!”

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Tribute Quartet signs with Daywind

Daywind announced yesterday that Tribute Quartet will be joining its roster. Daywind President Ed Leonard said, “Tribute has rapidly ascended to prominence in the Southern Gospel industry, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. We are excited to have the opportunity to work with such young, enthusiastic men and look forward to having the group as part of our growing roster of artists for a long time to come.”

Tribute Quartet co-founder and lead singer Gary Casto commented, “Tribute Quartet is thrilled to be joining the Daywind family. At this season in our ministry, after just celebrating our seventh year together, we are excited about the opportunity to work with this award-winning team as we continue to make great music for years to come.”

Fellow co-founder and pianist Josh Singletary added, I am tickled to be a part of the Daywind family and anticipate a bright and productive future!”

The group’s first Daywind release will come out later this year.

It has been an especially busy week for Tribute Quartet tenor Riley Harrison Clark; his wife Megan gave birth to their first child, son Colbin Harrison Clark, just before midnight last night.

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Devin McGlamery wins vote for 2013 Best Southern Gospel On-stage Video

The results are in! The readers of Southern Gospel Journal voted this video as the best Southern Gospel on-stage video of 2013:

With over 3,000 votes cast, the second and third place finishers had such an overwhelming showing as to deserve an honorable mention. In fact, the second-place finisher, The Inspirations’ “He Broke The Chains,” had more votes than the total votes cast in the concept and behind-the-scenes polls combined:

Meanwhile, the third-place finisher, The Old Paths’ “Long Live The King.” Their showing would have been enough to win either of the first two polls!

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Friday News Roundup #208


Worth Knowing

  • Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of Tracy Stuffle’s stroke. The Perrys posted a note of thanks here.
  • We learned earlier in the month that Jared Stuffle would be singing bass for the Perrys until his father was able to return full-time. A press release with a few more details has now been posted.
  • AbsolutelyGospel has announced the nominees for their annual awards.
  • The Mark Trammell Quartet held a blog tour to promote their new release, featuring four simultaneously posted interviews with group members here, here, here and here. There’s also a contest open to win a copy of the new CD here.

Worth Watching

Here’s a personal testimony song that Joseph Habedank wrote and has been singing in his solo concerts:

Worth Discussing

Were there any other significant Southern Gospel news stories this week?

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2013 Awards: Best On-Stage Video: Voting

Quite a few Southern Gospel magazines and websites offer “best of” contests and awards shows. But they often cover much the same ground: Favorite artist, song, album, musician, singer at each vocal part, and the like. Let’s do something different. Let’s honor the best Southern Gospel videos—concept videos, behind-the-scenes videos (including studio videos), and live concert videos. For each category, we’ll do a nominations post and a follow-up post with a poll featuring the top nominees.

You’ve already selected the best concept video and the best behind-the-scenes video. You’ve also nominated and seconded the finalists for this final category, best on-stage single-song video, here. It’s time to vote!

[UPDATE, 1/27/2014] The results are in! Here are the final vote totals and percentages:

  1. 42% / 1,313 votes: From My Rags to His Riches – Devin McGlamery –
  2. 33% / 1,036 votes: He Broke The Chains – Inspirations –
  3. 8% / 239 votes: Long Live The King – Old Paths –
  4. 4% / 132 votes: Thanks To Calvary – Pat Barker at the Cathedrals Family Reunion –
  5. 3% / 83 votes: I Rest My Case At The Cross – The Perrys –
  6. 3% / 80 votes: While I Still Can – Devin McGlamery –
  7. 2% / 52 votes: Glorious Freedom – Gaither Vocal Band –
  8. 2% / 47 votes: Light a Candle – Ernie Haase & Signature Sound –
  9. 1% / 44 votes: He Loves Me – Chris Allman, Gerald Wolfe, Mark Trammell, Pat Barker –
  10. 1% / 43 votes: All Bass Quartet at NQC –
  11. 1% / 28 votes: Something’s Happening – Hoppers with TaRanda Greene –
  12. 1% / 16 votes: All is Well – Whisnants with Melissa Brady –

Total votes: 3,115.

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Paul Ellis returns to Liberty Quartet

paul ellisOn January 17, 2013, Liberty Quartet announced the departure of baritone Jordan Cragun. Various individuals—Tim Parton, Dehner Franks, Obadiah Neasham, and Liberty alumnus Doran Ritchey—have filled in over the last year as they searched for a permanent replacement. Yesterday afternoon, almost exactly a year to the day after Cragun’s departure, they announced that they have found a replacement: Former member Paul Ellis is returning.

Former Liberty Quartet tenor Keith Waggoner, who is now the chairman of Liberty Ministries (the group’s oversight board), commented:

Paul and his lovely wife, Kim, have three children: Emily, who is a junior at Northwest Nazarene University and will be getting married on June 20th; Connor, who is a senior in high school; and Grace, who is in eighth grade. Kim, a gifted vocalist and musician in her own right, is thrilled for Paul to be part of Liberty’s ministry again. We are blessed to have this incredible couple and add them as siblings to the Liberty Quartet family. Make plans now to see Liberty Quartet when they are in your neck of the woods and welcome Paul (back) to the group.

I believe the future is brighter than ever for Liberty and their ministry. Remember, when God says, “wait,” there is always a reason. As we surrender to His timing and His plans, we can truly say, “Good things DO come to those who wait on the Lord.”

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CD Interviews: Doug Anderson on Drive


In the CD interviews column, instead of sharing a reviewer’s thoughts about a project, we interview the artist to get the artist’s own thoughts. Doug Anderson’s second solo release, Drive, comes out today; he graciously agreed to share some insight into the project.

Daniel J. Mount: Because it is a little unusual in this case, I’ll start off by asking how fans can purchase the project. I know some of my readers will have heard about the “Drive to Retail” campaign, but for those who haven’t, could you explain the idea?

Doug Anderson: Sure! The first two weeks of the release, they won’t be able to get it at Signature Sound’s table or my website; they won’t be able to get it anywhere but retail. Whether that be Family Christian, Life Way, Target, Walmart, they’ll just be able to get it at the retail stores.

The “Drive to Retail” campaign is about building a relationship with retail. Anybody that has ever made it in this business, whether it be Third Day, Michael W. Smith, or Toby Mac, has a relationship with retail. And that’s how they’ve prolonged their careers; people go to retail stores and buy their projects. That’s the way the secular world does it; that’s the way most of the major contemporary artists do it. I mean, they do sell projects at their table, but they really have a relationship with retail.

So what we did to build a future for myself, as Doug Anderson, is try to partner up with the retail stores and say, “Hey, this is good. We are willing to help you if you help us.” It’s just kind-of one of those deals where they win, and we win as well. Whether we win immediately, or we win in the future.

Southern Gospel has always made their money by selling projects at the table. We want to broaden our horizons and make our relationship with retail stores, and let them know we have good music out there. So it’s not only helping me personally, but I would like to think it’s helping Southern Gospel as a whole. So we’ve done the whole “Drive to Retail” deal just to kind-of do something different then what everybody else has done.

Daniel: One quick follow up to that: will people be able to purchase it digitally on release day, or will they have to wait two weeks on that?

Doug: They will. We’re trying to do a “Drive to Retail” to get them to go to the retail stores, but they can definitely download it immediately on iTunes on January 21st as well. Whether it be Internet or digital downloads, that’s kind of where things are going at this point. But we’re still trying to support the retail stores that are out there that support us.

Daniel: On your debut solo project, you had a couple of guest vocal appearances. Do you have any on this one?

Doug: You know what, we talked about that a lot. On the first one, people want to see what you’re all about, and we had guest appearances. But Wayne [Haun] and I talked, and Ernie [Haase] of course, and thought that on the second project, I needed to do everything myself. Of course I’ve got background vocals; Signature Sound is on there. Michael Passons from Avalon is on there, Ty Herman’s on there. They’re on there, but it’s not a big deal as far as a duet. We’ve got great background vocalists, of course, but they wanted to take a different route on this one. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant by any means. You know what I mean.

Daniel: I do, yes. Now for a random question: Who had the idea to convert a Dolly Parton hit song, “The Seeker”, into a baritone solo?

Doug: Well, you know what, that was about a three year old idea. We’d been kicking around songs, of course, for a year and a half, but when I started to record, throw out ideas for another project, Wayne said, “I’ve got a song for you. You did a Billy Dean cover on the first tune, and, you know, you’re basically a country music artist with Gospel roots, and things like that, and you like that. So how about a Dolly Parton tune?” He pitched it to me, and we just sat on it for about two years.

Man, I’m a huge Dolly Parton fan; when I was growing up, my parents, we listened to everything from Frank Sinatra and George Beverly Shea to Dolly Parton. And that was one of the songs I remember as a kid. So I put that song on there.

I read in her bios that it was kind of a prayer for her when she recorded it. So I fell in love with it back then and just to do it again was fun.

Daniel: Cool! Now, often when I talk with a singer, singers will tell me they are looking for songs that communicate truth in a way they never quite heard it put before. Of the songs when you were listening through the songs to pick for this project; of the songs you picked, was there one that most jumped out to you in that way?

Doug: Well, sure. I’ve never been ashamed of saying, I’ve always been myself, and never really tried to be any where or anybody else. You know, that’s probably hurt me. In many ways, if I had been a little more pushy in different areas, I’d probably been a lot farther in my career than I am; I’ve always just tried to be me. I figured if you record songs that speak to me, then they speak to other people. And after twelve years, I found that to be true.

There’s a song called, “Moment”; it’s written by Rachel McCutchin. It’s really getting big right now, people that have the record are responding to it. You know, my life has been a moment-by-moment grace process. I lived, and I’ve had a lot of successes and failures along the way as well, but God’s always been there to protect me and keep me on the right path whether I knew it or not. That’s probably one of the songs that will jump out on this record that people will actually love and relate to as well.

Daniel: Yes. Are you doing a radio single to Southern Gospel radio, and if so, do you have one picked out yet?

Doug: Yes, absolutely. I think it will go out this month. It’s called “Love With Open Arms,” written by Wayne Haun, Joel Lindsey, and Jeff Bumgardner. When I talked to them about writing for the project, they all wanted to know what I wanted. I wanted fun and, to be honest, I wanted country. But I wanted a great message, and they kicked a song to me that was like the Keith Urban/Brad Paisley style. That was the song “Love With Open Arms.”

The title speaks for itself. It’s more that Phillip Phillips sound. People who have listened to it so far are digging it. So, you know, hopefully it will do well. We really love it, and the people at Signature Sound and StowTown Records love it, too, so hopefully it will go far.

Daniel: Cool. All right, so just for a fun question, what kind of car are you in on the cover, and did you get to drive it during the photo shoot?

Doug: [Laughs] Yeah, you know, that’s a great story. One of my best friends in the world, Frank Mills, is a friend with a guy that works for a company in Indiana called King Systems.” They have a mansion out north of town where we live, and had an eight-car garage. He had actually two Corvettes in his garage; he had an old ’68 pickup truck; he had, of course, a Suburban and things like that. But he had a old ’57 Chevy, bright red convertible. And so when we were doing the “drive” concept, which I thought would be a great to market it, we did a picture in a car. I mean, what else are you going to do with a CD called “Drive”?

So we found a guy that had great cars, and we went out there and spent the day, my wife and kids, and Glenda Mills, who was my photographer. We spent probably a whole afternoon out there shooting scenes in the cars, and I did get to drive it. I got to drive it down the road, and she shot a lot of photos. Actually, one of my favorite pictures is in the insert of the CD. He had two Corvettes, and we had them facing each other. Michelle and I got to lean out of cars and kiss. People are raving about that picture. I mean, not that means anything about the project, but it made it fun!

Daniel: A random question. Of all the songs that Signature Sound has recorded, but hasn’t sung within the last year, what would you say is your favorite? Do you have a favorite song that Signature Sound hasn’t been singing recently?

Doug: Oh man, that’s a loaded question! I’ve been fortunate to sing a lot of great songs myself within Signature Sound, and, of course, you know, being politically correct, “O What A Savior” is still a hit every night we sing it, but a song called “Until We Fly Away” is a song that I sing, that Joel Lindsey wrote. We don’t sing it every night anymore, just because Signature Sound has so many songs. But it’s one of the songs I get asked for every night; and just because we have different repertoire now and we have a different program, we don’t get to sing it. But that is a career song for me, and I just love it, man!

Daniel: Cool! I’ll just close with this: was there anything else you wanted to bring up to make sure the readers knew about the project?

Doug: You know what, if I could just say something to my fans: Southern Gospel has the most loyal fans in the entire world. Just to get their calls and their emails and their Facebooks and things like that; you know, the fans that we have, they know me; I’m just who I am and I’m so grateful that they’re around.

Daniel: Thank you!

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