Encouraging a higher standard for Christian music



*As a special treat you can listen to an 
original recording provided by the 
Sykes family of Bessie 
singing Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul here.

Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul – Seth and Bessie Sykes

Foreword:  Since the original posting of my article, Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul, on January 14, 2011, and a subsequent update on July 14, 2012 the article has been read by internet users thousands of times. I suppose that is because a lot of lives were positively affected by this little song some time earlier in their lifetime. Or it could be that the song reminds folks of a special time in their lives which was very important to them. I am pleased that so many people have found the article worthwhile, especially around the Thanksgiving holiday which occurs in November in the USA. With this update (October 21, 2015), I am providing additional background on the songwriters and their evangelistic ministry gained through personal communication with direct descendants of Seth and Bessie Sykes, authors of Thank You Lord. 


John 4:29 (NIV) “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

Background: Sometimes things just pop into your head from the past and you don’t know why. Recently a chorus that I learned as a child just keeps ringing in my brain for no apparent reason. The tune and words are etched in my memory. In times when I least expect it, I find myself humming the tune and repeating the words over and over:

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank You, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank You, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

The tune is simple and the words are easy to sing. But I’m not sure that I ever understood how profound these words really are. I recall learning this chorus in Vacation Bible School in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. Later on I know that we regularly sang it in our youth group. And even later, our church would use it as part of our worship service, particularly after someone came forward to give their life to Christ.

SYKES copy.002

I decided to do a little research on the origin of the chorus and have found that it is actually a part of a hymn written by Seth (1892-1950) and Bessie Sykes (1905-1982) copyrighted in 1940. The Sykes were traveling Evangelists well-known in the United Kingdom. A number of their hymns including Thank You Lord andLove Wonderful Love made their way to the United States. The Sykes were also invited to conduct services in the United States but according to a family member World War II “put a stop to that and the moment passed.”

Seth and Bessie lead children to sing songs of the Savior. Note the small folding organ that Bessie is playing. Source: Eva Sykes Campbell, daughter of Seth and Bessie Sykes.

The Sykes home base was located in Glasgow, Scotland the third largest city in the United Kingdom. Seth Sykes began his career as a conductor and motorman for Glasgow Corporation Tramways. He also served as Secretary for the Tramway Christian Association where he was allowed to hand out Christian literature and Bibles. In 1929 Sykes left his job and along with his wife became a full-time traveling evangelist. The Sykes were somewhat like today’s media Christian innovators in that they used lantern slides and rousing hymns played by Bessie on a small, folding organ to gain the full interest of their crowds. Seth’s sermons led countless people to Christ and this hymn was most assuredly sung as a regular part of their services.

The following description of the story behind Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul is taken from “A Great Little Man, A Biography of Evangelist Seth Sykes”, copyright 1958, written by Seth Sykes, Jr. and Bessie Sykes.

“Thank you, Lord was born [in 1940] in a railway carriage between Edinburgh and Glasgow and has been wonderfully used of God. It has been translated into more than 70 different languages including French, German, Arabic and Chinese, and is sung both on radio and Television throughout the globe. Many touching stories have been told of how it has brought comfort and cheer to those nearing the end of Life’s weary way. One dear man heard it sung over a Canadian broadcasting network. He had come from Scotland to Canada, and somehow had lost touch with Christ. He determined to renew the covenant. Seeking the origin of the chorus, he was put in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Sykes and memories of an old friendship were revived.”

Reflection: I thank God for giving … yes GIVING … me my salvation. There is no way I can take it for granted. It is God’s free gift. I simply must tell others what Jesus has done for me. I pray for the fervor that the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well had for telling others about Jesus after she encountered her Messiah. She left her water pot and ran back to town to tell everyone about what Jesus had done for her. John records the results of her testimony in John 4:39 (NIV) – “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’” Her message was simple. She didn’t have Biblical training or a special calling. All she did was tell others what Jesus had done for HER in her own words. That’s all that is required. Tell others in your own words what Jesus has done for you and let Christ do the rest.

I wonder if Seth and Bessie Sykes knew what an impact their simple hymn and chorus would have on future generations. I, for one, am indebted to them for their faithfulness and this wonderful hymn and chorus. Perhaps the full lyrics of the hymn would inspire you to tell others what Jesus means to you.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.


Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul

Some thank the Lord for friends and home,
For mercies sure and sweet;
But I would praise Him for His grace —
In prayer I would repeat:

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank You, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank You, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

Some thank Him for the flow’rs that grow,
Some for the stars that shine;
My heart is filled with joy and praise
Because I know He’s mine.

I trust in Him from day to day,
I prove His saving grace;
I’ll sing this song of praise to Him
Until I see His face.

© Copyright 1940, 1945. Renewal 1968, 1973 by Bessie Sykes.  Assigned to Singspiration, Inc. All rights reserved.

As a special treat you can listen to an original recording provided by the Sykes family of Bessie singing Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul here:

Audio Player

According to daughter Eva Campbell, Bessie was “accompanied on that recording by a friend Bob Christie who is an excellent musician, although she usually played for herself.”

Here’s a link to HymnPod to play and sing along with the hymn “Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul.” Click on the link and then scroll down to the player and click on the start button.


Additional insight into the lives of Seth and Bessie Sykes

Seth Sykes Train Conductor - Source Eva Sykes Campbell

Recently I have come upon additional information about Seth and Bessie Sykes and want to share it with those who continuously search the internet for “Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul” and happen upon my blog. It is often helpful to explore the story behind a hymn to better understand the purpose of the songwriters in penning it to begin with. Figure 1. provides a picture of Seth Sykes in his full Glascow Corporation Tramway uniform. The picture was most likely taken prior to 1929 when Seth left his full-time job at the Tramway so he and Bessie could spend full-time on their already blooming ministry.

Evangelists Mr & Mrs Seth Sykes c.1929

Seth was a slight man with a big heart for Jesus. Seth and Bessie never looked back after they started their full-time ministry. They spread the word of the Lord wherever they went. They wrote Christian hymns and even published songbooks.

A poster announcing a “Great Gospel Campaign” led by the Sykes. Notice that the services were held daily for two full weeks with two services on Sundays. When I was young boy I can remember revival services lasting that length of time. I don’t believe that folks today would attend a series of meetings that would last that long … even for someone as famous as evangelist Billy Graham. Note the emphasis on a “Special Lantern Service” entitled “REVIVAL” that is highlighted on the poster. The “Lantern” was a big draw in that day … a multi-media event well ahead of its time. Today’s society has come to expect such multi-media events complete with Powerpoint presentations, sound, video and references to web sites. But in that day the Lantern was quite a novelty.

Bill Sykes the Burglar - Seth & Bessie Sykes

The electric lantern was used by the Sykes to show slides during their religious services to enhance audience understanding and promote interest in the meetings. Use of the lantern was rather unique for that time and served as an additional draw to encourage folks to attend the special religious meetings conducted by the Sykes.

The Sykes wrote a number of hymns and choruses to use in their services. Seth wrote the lyrics and Bessie usually wrote the music. Many of these songs/hymns were published in an evangelists song book, “Songs of Salvation” also known as the S.O.S. songbook, the cover of which can be seen in Figure 5. The S.O.S. songbook is dated to 1930 by Mr. & Mrs. Seth Sykes, 363 Springburn Road, Glascow. I do not know if the Sykes wrote all of the hymns. Also included in Figure 5. is what I believe to be a one-page resume used by the Sykes to explain their background and promote their services with potential hosts.

Left: SOS Songs of Salvation – Song Book by Seth and Bessie Sykes; “A choice collection of Original Songs and Choruses for Evangelistic Meetings, Solo Singers, Choirs, and the Home by Mr. and Mrs. Seth Sykes, Scottish Evangelists, Authors and Composers of “Running Over”‘ “Love Wonderful Love”, “Listening Is”, etc. –
Right: One page resume with the title: The Gospel in Word and Song, Also Electric (see note at the end of this article)** Lantern. Some of the qualifications listed: Evangelists, Authors, Musicians, Composers. In the rectangular box at the top of the page: Christ for All, All for Christ, The Word of God; Undenominational but Fundamental. “We are not affiliated with any {unknown} or {unknown} but entirely dependent upon the Lord for our support.” Lower left corner at the bottom: “Highly recommended by the leading Evangelical Organizations.”

In my research I found additional songs by Seth and Bessie Sykes. A number are discussed in “A Great Little Man, A Biography of Evangelist Seth Sykes”, copyright 1958, written by Seth Sykes, Jr. and Bessie Sykes. Some of the most well-known include Love, Wonderful Love, Out of the Mud and the Mire, Sonny Boy, The Last Milestone, Wonderful Place called Calvary, Memories, Everybody’s Loved by Someone and Running Over. Seth wrote the lyrics to Running Over and H. G. Hunter (and not Bessie) wrote the music. Quoting the biography: “Running Over has been running all over the world for a number of years and is a great favourite among the boys and girls who at an early age learn to lisp out the words of this simple little chorus with the deep, deep meaning.”

Running Over, Running Over

Music by H. G. Hunter, Lyrics by Seth Sykes

Running over, running over,
My cup’s fill’d and running over,
Since the Lord saved me, I’m as happy as can be,
My cup’s fill’d and running over.

Telling others, telling others,
My life’s work is telling others,
Since the Lord lives in me, I’m as happy as can be,
My life’s work is telling others.

To sing along with this hymn use this link “Running Over, Running Over”

All accounts indicate that many, many people were saved and/or blessed under the ministry of Seth and Bessie Sykes and remember those days fondly. Below are a couple of testimonies in their own words that I located in the public domain of the internet at thislink.

Ruth Millar
22nd Oct 2007, 07:57pm
I am remember the Sykes very well. I lived in Guernsey Channel islands and I remember them coming twice in 1935 and 1937. I am now 76 years old and can still hear Mrs Bessie Sykes powerful voice singing “There were Ninety-and-nine” and “[The Land where the Roses never fade”. Both my parents and some of their friends were saved under their ministry in 1935, and I was saved in 1937. They were wonderful days with we little ones singing “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful love” also “Thank You Lord for Saving my Soul” The Lantern Slides which they showed as Bessie sang were very real and moving.
2nd Feb 2009, 01:20pm
Hi Heather,
I have just discovered your correspondence by email. I was born in Springburn, and lived up the same ‘close’ as Molly Weir’s mother. We knew Mrs Weir quite well, and she was so proud of her daughter, Molly. I also played in Paddy’s Park and jumped the ‘midins’ – For many years I was a Gospel singer and was a member of the Garngad Foundry Boys, where my father was treasurer for 40 years (William Robertson). At seveteen I joined the Springburn Gospel Hall. I sang many of Seth and Bessie Sykes songs, and listened to some of her lantern talks, sorry I can’t remember any of them now. They were a most remarkable couple, and have left a legacy of Christian music.

Family Portrait 1949 - Seth, Bessie, Seth Jr., Evangeline

The Sykes celebrated their 20th year of full-time ministry together in October, 1949. Seth Jr. and Evangeline (Eva) are pictured in a family photo shown on the left. Seth’s biography tells us that he and Bessie celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on July 16, 1950 while “in the midst of a campaign in the Seamen’s Chapel, Brown Street, Glasgow.” Though Seth began suffering declining health, their busy evangelical ministry continued its demanding pace. Unfortunately, in the midst of an active campaign at Port Glasgow Seth “took suddenly and seriously ill” and after “immediate surgery” for a perforated colon passed away a few days later on November 29, 1950. As Seth wished, Bessie continued their ministry for many years writing in the Epilogue to Seth’s biography in 1958:

“How has the work gone since 1950? The Lord enabled me to fulfill the engagements which were in our diary and before they were completed other doors had opened up, and through the succeeding years it has been like that. He has set His seal upon the ministry in the salvation of precious souls. … I thank God for every remembrance of my husband and partner and look forward to our re-union which is sure. Together we shall stand in His presence never to part again, and until then, may God help me to keep that memory sweet and green of “A great Little Man.”

Finally, I ran across a blogger, Mark Thompson, who is interested in Scottish history and in particular history related to evangelists from Scotland. You can read Mark’s blog on Seth and Bessie Sykes at this link.

Your comments and contributions to the collective knowledge about Seth and Bessie Sykes are most welcome. Please use the comment section below to communicate with me.

Original post from Christian blogger Jim Davenport here.

This sermon/teaching was recommended to me and I must say it’s one of the best I have heard on this subject.

The balanced approach to the subject of music and worship in the church is refreshing.

Highly recommended!












I could not download it,

so here is the link: True Worship by Tim Pruitt



The world sings: the millions have their songs; and I must say the taste of the populace is a very remarkable taste just now as to its favourite songs. They are, many of them, so absurd and meaningless as to be unworthy of an idiot. I should insult an idiot if I could suppose that such songs as people sing nowadays would really be acceptable to him.
Yet these things will be heard from men, and places will be thronged to listen to hear the stuff. Now, why should we, with the grand psalms we have of David, with the noble hymns of Cowper, of Milton, of Watts—why should we not sing as well as they? Let us sing the songs of Zion; they are as cheerful as the songs of Sodom any day. Let us drown the howling nonsense of Gomorrha with the melodies of the New Jerusalem.
Charles Spurgeon


Is this type of “worship” God-centered? Do you consider it to be true worship to the one true living God, The Lord Jesus Christ?


If you have any further comments or questions after voting, you may use the comments sections below. Thank you!




Jehovah God became man, took on our stock, crossed Himself from God, and became man. There’s the sign. He was God, and became man, not rich men, but poor man. This is the super sign. “You’ve asked for a sign,” said God, “I’ll give you one, an everlasting sign.”

He could’ve come otherwise, but a baby… Why did He become a baby? When that first little toothless mouth opened in that manger, on that first Christmas morning, in His little manger crib, and the first little yell that went from His voice, that was God crying. Jehovah crying: a man. Came from God; and was man, every whit, man. Came to the world with nothing, but still man. What was He trying to do? What was He purposing?

He cried like a baby in the manger. He played like a boy, on the street. He toiled like a man, but yet He was Immanuel. This is the super Sign: God dwelling in the creation that He created. The super sign, “It shall be a sign unto you.”

He was so poor when He came to the earth, He came through a borrowed womb, a borrowed womb of a woman, and had to borrow a grave to be buried in. God… A virgin shall conceive without sexually inception. Jehovah borrowed the womb of Mary, a woman, to perform the duty, that He’d give an everlasting sign. And was so poor on earth, after thirty-three and a half years, of ministry, He had to borrow a grave to be buried in. Can you imagine? Talk about immaculate conception… what meanest thou anyhow?

Can’t you see the real Sign?  It’s Jehovah; He became one of us: Jehovah God on earth, as a fugitive, a pilgrim in the land that He created: rejected, and pushed, and laughed at, and scoffed at; a stumbling Stone to the unbeliever, a Rock of an offense; a devil, to the religious world, but an eternal Sign to the believer, “God with us,” the super Sign. Do you see it? God made manifest, God presenting Himself to the world as a fugitive; He could’ve come some other way, but chose to come this way.

I think that God had in His mind it would be appealing to the human being. It is to the believer. It is appealing when our God becomes one of us, but to the starchy, ungodly, a stumbling block. “I’ll give you the sign, a virgin shall conceive. Immanuel will be with you.” God thought it would appeal to the human race, that our God would be one of us, that He would cross Himself and become our dust, that He would become our stock, a human stock, the Creator Who made all things. Again, it fulfilled prophecy. The prophets had seen it.

And another thing, the Word was made dust, flesh, and dwelt among us. Jehovah, the Word became human, became dust, and tabernacled with us. Everlasting Sign shall never end. Oh, when we think of it, an eternal Sign, the super Signs of all sign, God becoming one of us. (William Branham, A Super Sign, 27DEC 1955)


Good King Wenceslas

Not your usual Christmas hymn, but one I recall hearing and singing many years ago. And if I recall correctly we even sang this during our Christmas pageants during my years in grade-school. The little message below is from Dr. Ralph F. Wilson at Joyful Heart website

“Good King Wenceslas looked down on the feast of Stephen….” 

I have heard this carol since I was a child, but didn’t really know the story behind it. It turns out that Good King Wenceslas (ca. 907-935 AD) was the Duke of Bohemia (now the western portion of the Czech Republic). His grandfather and father had turned from paganism to Christianity. His mother, however, was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief. When Wenceslas was 13, his father died, and his mother, having embraced paganism once more, tried to turn him away from Christ. But when Wenceslas was 18, he gained the throne, had his mother exiled, and sought to reign over his people with mercy and justice as a Christian monarch.

He is best known for his acts of kindness – one of which is immortalized in the carol we sing at Christmas. An early biographer wrote of his legendary deeds:

“Rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.”

Though he ruled for but a decade, he was beloved by his people. At the age of 28, Wenceslas was assassinated on his way to church by his brother, but his influence lived on.

The first stanza observes Wenceslas, who watches a poor man collecting wood on a cold winter’s night.

“Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen, When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even; Brightly shone the moon that night, tho’ the frost was cruel, When a poor man came in sight, gath’ring winter fuel.”

The king asks his page or servant where the poor man lives.

“‘Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know’st it, telling, Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?’ ‘Sire, he lives a good league2 hence, underneath the mountain; Right against the forest fence, by Saint Agnes’ fountain.’”3

Wenceslas commands the servant to gather meat, drink, and firewood that they will personally carry to the poor man’s home.

“‘Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither: Thou and I shall see him dine, when we bear them thither.’ Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together; Through the rude wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather.”

The servant almost gives up, but Wenceslas calls on him to walk directly behind him. And miraculously, the servant can feel the warmth as he walks in his footprints.

“‘Sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger; Fails my heart, I know not how; I can go no longer.’ ‘Mark my footsteps, good my page. Tread thou in them boldly. Thou shalt find the winter’s rage freeze thy blood less coldly.’ In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted4; Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.”

The carol concludes with a call to all Christians to bless the poor, and in that find a blessing for themselves.

“Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”

The final phrases remind me of two passages from Scripture. The first is from Proverbs:

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” (Proverbs 19:17)

The second is Jesus’ Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46) that calls on all his disciples to aid the poor and suffering. In the parable, his disciples don’t remember any acts of kindness towards him, for which he blesses them.

“‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:34, 37-39)

So when you sing the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas,” understand the example – and do likewise this Christmas season and always:

“Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.”

If  you celebrate the Christmas season or not, I pray this season and the coming year for you is filled with love, joy, spiritual growth, and the peace of God, which passes understanding.

HymnPod: O Little Town Of Bethlehem


O Little Town Of Bethlehem

reblogged from: hymnpod

Blessed Christmas! Do join my free Basic Piano Hymn Playing Course if you wish: https://www.udemy.com/basic-piano-hymn-playing/


Lyrics: Phillips Brooks
Music: Lewis H. Redner

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the blessèd Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

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