(If you do not see the music icons/links within this post, please click on the June 28, 2020 title/link above.)
This week we are very fortunate to have Dick Hickman and Richard Curtis performing the song “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well.” Here’s the note that Dick wrote to accompanying their recording:
“Jesus Met the Woman at the Well” is a traditional Gospel song about Jesus and the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John at 4:4-26. We learned the song from Peter Paul and Mary’s 1964 “In Concert” album. It was recorded in 1950 by The Pilgrim Travelers, and attributed to one of their members, J. W. Alexander, who also mentored and toured with a young teenage Gospel singer named Sam Cooke. The song has also been attributed to the Reverend (Blind) Gary Davis. Mahalia Jackson recorded the song at the 1958 Newport Folk Festival.
Many thanks to Dick and Rick! I’m especially excited to get to hear this piece because the story of the Samaritan Woman in John Chapter 4 was listed as a lectionary reading for March 15th of this year. I had actually talked to Dick and Rick back in February about maybe including the song on that March 15th Sunday (which ended up being the first Sunday that our service was cancelled because of the pandemic), so I’m very glad we finally get to hear it after these long several months since that time!
I’m glad to have this piece this week too because the Gospel reading from Matthew this week is interesting to compare to the John passage from March–partly because the imagery is so similar. In the John reading, the Samaritan woman asks Jesus for a drink of water. In the Matthew reading, it is said that whoever hospitably receives one of Christ’s disciples, even if only offering him a cup of water, also receives Christ and will therefore be rewarded by God.
I’m very grateful to Dick and Rick, but I thought I should also offer something myself this week. One hymn that I think goes really well with the readings this week is “Amazing Grace”—probably one of the most universally loved Christian hymns ever written. One little tidbit you might not be aware of for this hymn—the words were very famously written in the eighteenth century by John Newton (the English slave trader who repented and became a priest), but the tune we now use with Newton’s lyrics was not written until 1835.
Here is my recording of George Shearing’s organ arrangement of “Amazing Grace” along with several of the stanzas to read as you listen (although I’m sure a lot of us know these words by heart). Thanks very much, everyone!
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.