A Bit of History
by J. David Tant
While looking through an old paperback songbook, I found a page written by Austin Taylor, a song leader who often traveled with my grandfather (J. D. Tant) and other gospel preachers to lead singing during gospel meetings. He mentioned favorite songs of several preachers. I do not know when the list was compiled, but obviously many years ago. This little book, "Christian Voices," was given to my grandmother, Nannie Yater Tant, by brother Taylor, as he has autographed it.
- R. M. Gano, a General in the Civil War, shed tears as I sang, "Am I a Soldier of the Cross?" He baptized 7,000 people, some of them while he was a general.
- T. B. Larimore, an unusual gospel preacher, baptized 12,000 people with his own hands. "Rescue the Perishing" was a favorite of his.
- "Weeping" Joe Harding, a man of much courage and zeal, suggested to me to sing "Work for the Night is Coming."
- A.B. Barrett, the founder of Abilene Christian College, loved to sing "Be Strong in the Faith, My Brother."
- A. J. "Jack" McCarty was happy to sing, "I'll Be Satisfied Then."
- J. D. Tant's emotions were stirred by the singing of "I'll Be a Friend to Jesus."
- Joe S. Warlick, who engaged in 401 public debates, seemed happy to sing "Look Away From the Cross to the Glittering Crown."
- W. A. Schultz had a favorite, "Not Made With Hands."
- F. L. Young rejoiced in singing, "Let Us Pass Over the River and Rest Under the Shade."
- Isaac Tacket loved, "I Need Thee Every Hour."
- G.H.P. Showalter loved to sing, "I'm a Child of the King, What a Wonderful Thing."
- H. W. Busby, who has baptized 18,000 people and is still preaching, has witnessed thousands of people surrender to Christ while, "Lord, I'm Coming Home" was being sung.
- Foy E. Wallace, Jr., who goes from coast to coast preaching the gospel in his unbiased, masterly manner, loves such songs as "The Sheltering Rock," with the expression, "When the sheltering rock is so nearby, Oh, why will you die?"
The bit about Austin Taylor and the favorite songs of preachers has brought a few responses. The following response from Keith Sharp gives some more insight into brother Taylor's life. For many years the Texas Normal Singing School trained many a young man to lead singing. My own son, Jeff, went twice when he was in his middle teens, and became an excellent song leader through the training. Edgar Furr was conducting the school then. The school no longer operates, and the campus has been sold. [See note below. The school has changed location and name.]
The last time I was in Sabinal was for the funeral of Jerry Angelo in 1989. Jerry grew up in that area, and knew brother Taylor. He said that in his later years, he might be walking in the business district and someone would recognize him and say, "Brother Taylor, sing us a song." So Taylor would stop right there and sing a gospel song with his great voice. My uncle, Austin Taylor Tant, was named for him, and I have a grandson who is also named Austin Taylor Tant (but better known as "Shack," after my wife's father, Shack Hartsell).
I miss the days of the great meetings, when there would be many responses to the gospel. In my grandfather's day, it would not be unusual to have 50 or 75 baptisms. There are many things that make it different now, including TVs, air conditioned homes, movie theaters everywhere, etc. Back in those days, there was nothing else to do, and meetings were social events as well as preaching. But people would come, and many learned and obeyed the truth. If a two-week meeting was going well, they might extend it to three weeks. And now many churches only have three-day meetings.
Oh well. We can't live in the past, but must make the most of the opportunities we have now. Following is what Keith Sharp wrote. His father was Harold Sharp, a well-known Arkansas preacher.
This just about brought a tear to my eye. I was a student of Austin Taylor at the Texas Normal Singing School when I was 14. He was approaching 80 then. He led "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep," clearly hit every note from lowest to highest, and sang louder than all 90 students combined. My mother grew up with his son in Uvalde, TX, where she was born. He wrote "On the Banks of the River" after his son was killed in the crash of a biplane traveling through so people could take brief thrill and curiosity rides. Brother Taylor was away from Uvalde leading singing at the time and had forbidden his son to go up in the plane. When traveling through Uvalde on my way to Del Rio in 1979 I stopped and visited Brother Taylor. I think he was in his 90s then. He told me how he wrote "Do All in the Name of the Lord" in 1916 at the request of Foy E. Wallace, Sr. Brother Wallace had preached on Colossians 3:17 in a meeting in which Brother Taylor led the singing, and there was no song in the book to accompany that passage. I requested that song at my dad's funeral in 1987.
I saw your web today about Brothers Furr and Taylor. Brother Furr was our preacher in Ingleside, Texas for many years. My brother, Wilburn and I went to Singing School in 1957 and Joe Ed Furr baptized me in the Sabinal River. Brother Taylor taught and sang at the school that year. He once told us if we could not sing, just be loud. My brother is the preacher at Blyth Road Church in Victoria, Texas. I have been leading sing at Ingleside for many, many years.
Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord.
In His service
Austin Taylor was the song leader for the two music hall meetings by Foy E. Wallace. (He was not really a "Jr." ; he and his father had different middle names.) He did not want to use a microphone; a little man, but he said his voice would be sufficient in that large auditorium, and it was. I was there for both meetings, and though a teenager, tired not at all through the services which were much longer than most. When Ed Furr closed down the Sabinal singing school, Gerald Wise (the four Wise brothers all went to the singing school) and Gary Box tried to keep it going, but it did not last long, even after they moved it to a rented camp.
I enjoyed reading about Austin (Pop as I knew him) Taylor on your site. I was 9 years old when he passed but can still remember his voice and the times he would just start singing out of the blue. I have some of the song books with his songs. He told my mother before he passed that he wrote many songs under other names just to see if people would still like them. Unfortunately she didn't write the names down when he told them to her. Does anyone know about the other names? I spent many a days playing in his yard in Uvalde, TX. He was my great grandfather.
The old "Sabinal" school has never actually closed but has moved twice since leaving Sabinal. It is now in its 69th season and operating under the name "Abilene Christian University Singing School." It is still under the direction of Joe Ed Furr.