Bleg: “He Touched Me” in hymnals

Yeah, yeah, I’m blegging again. But here is where you get to put to use all those years of faithful church attendance and/or obscure Christian music publishing knowledge:

Question: What was the first hymnal (or songbook adopted by churches) to include “He Touched Me”?

Bonus prize: What was the first Gaither song to be included in a church hymnal/church songbook? I realize the answer to the bonus may be “He Touched Me” but confirming this in chapter and verse detail would be muy helpful to me for the current piece of writing I’m working on.

Extra credit for book titles, editions, and page numbers.

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  1. Eric Kaunitz wrote:

    Question: Baptist Hymnal?

    Bonus: Because He Lives?

  2. Scott wrote:

    If that’s right, it’s Baptist Hymnal 1975. As I recall, that’s on page 448.

    1991 had some more Gaither numbers as I recall, but I’d have to look.

    I’m still not sure if Baptist Hymal 75 was the first, though, ever. Of course, it was the first BH to use it in SBC. Certainly, there was no Gaither in the 1950s hymnal.

  3. CVH wrote:

    OK, this is only a hunch; it makes sense to me but it may be way off.

    Early on (after the couple of tunes Bill let go to Ben Speer Music when he was starting) he retained his own publishing. Sheet music and early songbooks (the big folios) were published in the early 70’s by Gaither Music. When the Paragon thing came up in 1975 some of the print went there.

    That said, the original hymnal published by Gaither/Paragon in July, 1976, “Hymns For The Family of God”, may have been the first time that copyright (and a number of his others) were used in a hymnal that was widely embraced by evangelical churches.

    So “He Touched Me” may be the bonus question answer as well but other early copyrights that were licensed for that and other hymnals include “There’s Something About That Name”, “I Believe In A Hill Called Mt. Calvary”, “Because He Lives”, “The Family Of God”, “The Longer I Serve Him”, “Something Worth Living For” and “Something Beautiful”.

    I haven’t been able to verify any of this so far, it’s just an educated guess so, as Dennis Miller says, “I could be wrong.”

  4. quartet-man wrote:

    I wondered about The Hymns Of The Family Of God too. I have a copy at church.

  5. Alan wrote:

    Man, I could be wrong here, Doug, but I recall being at a CBC or NRB convention in the early to mid-70’s, when Bill Gaither and Ralph Carmichael rolled out a new hymnal that was supposedly the first ever published that contained Gaither-penned songs. I don’t recall it being a Baptist hymnal, or tied to any denomination. Does anyone remember what that book might have been? My memory is really sketchy, but since Mr. Carmichael was associated with it, I’m wondering if it was published by his Sparrow label or one related…?

  6. Neil Enloe wrote:

    Just as an observation, I submit the following.

    “He Touched Me” is on one hand a most vague set of lyrics, and on the other hand a stroke of pure genius. The lyrics offer no specifics. Check out these words.

    “Shackled by ‘A’ heavy burden.” (That nails it.)

    “‘Neath the load of guilt and shame.” (Vague to the max.)

    “Then the hand of Jesus touched me. And now I am no longer the same.” (The same as what?)

    “He touched me, O, He touched me. (Why?)

    “And O, the joy that floods my soul.” (Over what?)

    Here’s a powerful(?) line, “Something happened” (Pretty specific there.), “and now I know He touched me and made me whole.” (Of what?)

    So, yes, it’s vague. But pure genius in that it is a template for the human dilemma. It provides blanks for the singer and hearer to fill in his or her own particulars of their life situation.

    Finally it truly speaks powerfully to the heart without saying anything profound or personal.

    I’m not too sure Bill Gaither realized when he penned it, the impact this amazing song would have. In fact, many years ago I happened to run into him at a Christian Booksellers Convention in Atlantic City, NJ. I had a short conversation with him on the Boardwalk. When the subject of songs came up, he asked with a puzzled expression, “Why He Touched Me? I have better songs than that.”

    The truth is that the people decide what is a great song, not the writer. Based on its staying power and the endearment it has enjoyed, it’s a great song.

  7. AnnD wrote:

    Hey Neil, you always “nail it”….AD

  8. john wrote:

    I know it has been in many different song book collections or anthologies…However, I am fairly certain that the first inclusion of this song in a “mainstream” hymnal would be the Celebration Hymnal.

  9. RF wrote:

    I can remember the Methodist Hymnal in our church about 1970 having Gaither songs in it (I don’t have one handy at the moment) and it was a little older than “Hymns for the Famly of God” which our church purchased in 1978.

    My guess is the Methodists first featured Gaither hymns and I’ll guess “He Touched Me.”

    Wish I had the Methoidst Hymnal at home now :-).

  10. Alan wrote:

    Well, well…I can only hope that if he isn’t in the habit of reading this blog, someone will tell Mr. Bill about Neil’s post. (And hey to you, my dear friend!) What a fascinating review of “He Touched Me” by one of the great songwriters of our generation! As you always do, Neil, you gave us thoughts that we would might never have considered by ourselves. We may not be any closer to solving Doug’s dilemma, but even Doug the writer will like your post, I’d bet. I’m so glad that you jumped in here, and now keep it up! Taking nothing from “Statue of Liberty” and many other of your songs, but the other day I heard “Lost, Searching, Found”, and it hit me that it’s about a perfect song. Unlike your observations on the “vagueness” of “He Touched Me”, you penned a complete and personal story of testimony in that. This blog often reinforces this, but the writers are the sung, yet unsung heroes of our music.
    Thanks again for a great posting, Neil.

  11. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Great post by Neil .
    Yes, it fits every doctrinal standards set forth in a personal relationship with Jesus.
    To all, He touched me when I accepted Him as my Savour.
    Anything beyond salvation, there are many ways person can be touched.
    recognition of the fact that He can touch you.
    Restoration in many shapes and forms.
    Maybe a second work of grace.
    Healing touch just to take the edge off of severe pain.
    Maybe seeing a healing in a healing service.
    Maybe a testimony.
    Just singing the song during a Sunday Morning Worship Service.
    Sometime during the week when you least expect it.
    To others, the tools set forth in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
    What bonds us together is a personal relationship with Jesus.

  12. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    The Celebration Hymnal used by the church I attend was published in the 1990s. There’s no way it was the first to include “He Touched Me.”

  13. here wrote:

    My mother was the church pianist when I was growing up. She maintained that the music director we had when I was little (so, late 70’s) always turned down requests for “He Touched Me” when he was singing for weddings. :)

  14. TL wrote:

    What about the Mercy Mark members cranking back up with the absence of Garry Jones. Have you heard about that? Oh, Chris West back on bass and his brother Craig doing lead/baritone. (The absolute most awesome voice you’ll ever hear.)

  15. Dean Adkins wrote:

    Earliest I have it (He Touched Me) in Great Gospel Songs and Hymns 1976. Compiled by Bill Gaither, Clyde Williams, Ezra Knight, Videt Polk, Jack Taylor & P.J. Zondervan. Stamps-Baxter Music of Zondervan Corp.

    Also in Praise! Our Songs and Hymns compiled by John W. Peterson & Norman Johnson. 1979. Singspiration, division of Zondervan Corp.

  16. Cliff Cerce wrote:

    Fascinating, Neil. (That’s why I let you hang around with me) :)

    Verse 2 of “He Touched Me” is less vague, I think - and more personal, in a sense.

    “Since I met this Blessed Savior,
    Since He cleansed and made me whole,
    I will never cease to praise Him,
    I’ll shout it while eternity rolls.”

    By the way, what else rolls besides eternity, ages, burdens and glory? (Oh, the glory did roll…)

  17. quartet-man wrote:

    I have the 89 UM hymnal at church, but also two previous editions. I’ll try to remember to look. Also, I wonder if any showed up in the Songs of Inspiration line. I’ll try to check those out too.

  18. Cliff Cerce wrote:

    Neil privately emailed me that bowling balls roll.My wife, Anita, had me reply to him to get his mind out of the gutter.

  19. cdguy wrote:

    I can’t swear to it, but I think the 1972 “Worship In Song” from Lillenas (Nazarene Publishing House) may have included both “He Touched Me” and “Because He Lives”. I think I have a copy at the house — I’ll have to check.

  20. BUICK wrote:

    I don’t know if this gets the ball any further down the field but:
    THE NEW CHURCH HYMNAL (Lexicon Music copyright 1976) has at least 4 BG songs:
    1) Let’s Just Praise The Lord (pg. 292)
    2) The Family of God (pg. 246)
    3) Because He Lives (pg. 122)
    4) Something Beautiful (pg. 526)
    PRAISE! OUR SONGS AND HYMNS (Singspiration Music copyright 1979) has 7 and that is the earliest hymnal I’ve located that includes “He Touched Me” (copyright 1963).

    Working on this has reminded me of a pet-peeve of mine. Why would ANY publisher put out a hymnal without an author-index? It can’t be that big a deal to compile it, it would only occupy a few pages and it is SUCH a tremendous tool. I especially appreciate those that include the full name of the author or composer, date of birth and date of death (where appropriate).

    And by the way, why don’t most hymnal have ANY dynamic markings in the hymns? The instrumentalists come in on the downbeat and play it the same speed, the same volume and the same expression from the first measure to the last. But it is hard to fault them when the publishers save ink and effort by omitting all dynamics from the musical notation. So, having vented, I ask again: WHY?

  21. quartet-man wrote:

    I checked a really old Methodist Hymnal (apparently before the UM split and possibly older than before Gaither was in music, and a newer hymnal (prior to the 1989 version) and never found any. I didn’t get the date out of the one because the first few pages of the loose leaf version are missing and I never made it downstairs for one of the regular hymnals like it.

    I can get the info from the Family Of God hymnal if you need me to. I never checked the songs of inspiration books yet. They are my personal books and are in a filing cabinet. I do remember them having songs by Duane Allen and other writers of the sixties and early seventies and they would have been “contemporary” back then and contemporaries of Bill.

  22. William W. Smith wrote:

    “He Touched Me” is found in the “Hymns for the Family of God” copyright 1976 by Pragon Associates, Inc. Many Methodist use this hymnal. However, because of the vagueness of the text, “He Touched Me” is left out of most mainline older denominational hymnals. I remember hymnology teachers in college and seminary discussing the song in a negative light. However, it is in the new 2008 Baptist Hymnal and has been showing up on santuary walls for many years now.

  23. Helen Myers wrote:

    I am lookng for the song book “GREAT GOSPEL SONGS AND HYMNS” published in 1976 by Stamps-Baxter Music of the Zondervan Corporation.

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