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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Song dedicated to the American Baptist Association

Here's a bit of obscure historical information. Probably most young people in churches in the American Baptist Association don't know that a song was once written and dedicated to the Association.

The following hymn is found as number 62 in Faithway Church Songs and Hymns, No. 2, by G. V. Hamilton, Varnado, Louisiana, 1967.

THE CHURCH THAT JESUS BUILT
Dedicated to the American Baptist Association. R. N. G.
Music by R. N. Grisham (words are not credited and may be by Grisham)

1. If you listen, I will tell of the church I love so well,
Of the one that Jesus built so long ago;
Its foundation was divine--history proves it, line by line--
Works of man, its doctrines cannot overthrow.

Chorus (repeats after each stanza):
'Tis the church that Jesus built so long ago,
"On this rock" I'll dwell while waiting here below;
For it gives me truth and light, and I know 'twill guide me right,
'Tis the church that Jesus built so long ago.

2. Once a messenger was sent, telling people to repent,
John, the Baptist, came and opened up the way;
Many people heard his cries and they came to be baptized,
They were dipped as all true Baptists are today.

3. 'Twas to John that Jesus came to be baptized, just the same
As all others whom that day, he had immersed;
Twelve disciples Jesus chose, and their teaching plainly shows
That the church was purely Baptist from the first.

4. When the Lord their faith had tried, and with it was satisfied,
"Upon this rock I build my church," He then declared.
Those who trust His saving grace, in this church shall have a place,
And shall never lose the way by Him prepared.

5. Close communion, Jesus taught,--those who don't believe it, ought,--
For He said that "I'm the door," and "I'm the way;"
Those who truly are baptized, then, are fully recognized,
And may eat and drink with Baptists of today.

6. Now, my friend, we clearly see, it's as plain as plain can be,
That the church of Baptist faith is surely right;
If you truly love the Lord, and your wish to keep His word,
Then, enlist with those who walk in the gospel light.

If anyone knows who R. N. Grisham is, I'd like to get some biographical information on him. 

I found online in a library listing a song book called Songs of Heaven by an R. N. Grisham of Greenville, SC. Here's the full listing:
Songs of Heaven: a Collection of the Very Best Songs to be Found, for Church, Sunday School, Revival, the Singing Conventions, and All Religious Gatherings. R. N. Grisham et al., eds. Greenville, SC: R. N. Grisham, [1924?]. 155 hymns.
The American Baptist Association was never strong in South Carolina, but this editor apparently is the same person as Rufus Norton Grisham of Jones County, Mississipi, though further research is needed. R. N. Grisham first appears in the 1880 census with his parents in Prentiss County, Mississippi. In 1920 he is in Greenville, Greenville County, South Carolina (didn't find him in the intervening years). He is in Ellisville, Jones County, in 1930. There were ABA churches in Jones County, during his lifetime, and this is also the same county where G. V. Hamilton, the compiler of the book from which I heard the song, was born and raised. Though I am not able (currently) to prove this R. N. Grisham was a songwriter, I did find articles from an old Laurel newspaper that confirm he was a singer.

Anyone know more about who this person is?

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