Text: Gloria Gaither (1942-) William J. (Bill) Gaither (1936-)
1. God sent His son, they called Him Jesus, He came to love, heal and forgive, He lived and died to buy my pardon, An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives,
R/Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, all fear is gone, Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living, just because He lives
2. How sweet to hold a newborn baby And feel the pride and joy He gives, But greater still the calm assurance This child can face uncertain days, because He lives,
3. And then one day, I'll cross the river, I'll fight life's final war with pain And then, as death gives way to victory I'll see the lights of glory and I’ll know he lives.
While some people are capable of writing both tune and texts, and a few of our most beloved hymns have been the products of one person, a writing/composing team, if it works, is also a very fruitful way to get hymn written. We have Rogers and Hammerstein in the secular world, and in the 17th century, Paul Gerhardt and Johann Crüger, but the best team for hymns and spiritual songs in the twentieth century is Gloria and Bill Gaither. In the year 2000, they won the award by ASCAP as the Christian songwriters of the century, based on the number of albums and sales they had. No one had come even close.
Their southern gospel sound, and their association with the contemporary worship movement kept them out of the main line hymnals until recently, but attention must be paid to their accomplishments. They have given millions of people songs to sing through their lives as they deal with normal life and its problems. This was among the first of their songs that crossed over into the main line, I think.
Gloria was an English, French and Sociology major at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. After she graduated she went to teach French in the Alexandria, Indiana, high school where she met Bill, who was teaching English. After they married in 1962, they began working together in a trio, with Bill’s brother, going around the country singing gospel music together.
As the contemporary worship movement grew, they became one of its signal groups. They had one hit album after another. After touring for almost thirty years—and that kind of work can be devasting on marriages, families and personalities--Gloria, who appears to be the business minded one, founded the Homecoming Series, gatherings featuring their musicians singing hymns and songs that they have written, but not exclusively. In 1996 she established a magazine based on the Homecoming series. Gloria is the editor and leader of these projects.
They are still working together and still producing hits. One can still see them singing and playing during the pandemic. Their southern gospel sound, and texts that speak to the lives of their listeners has kept them popular.
It was common for the main line to disparage them for their influence on main line worship, but they had sensed a need and found a way to speak to millions about Jesus and the life of faith, with amazing success. The best thing about them, from my point of view, is that they still, after 58 years together, sing simply of what matters: Jesus. Sometimes that is all we can say. Or need to say.
This hymn was written in 1974 when their son was born. It was near the beginning of the Gaither Trio’s recording and touring business. Some experts have said that sonnets or any other kind of poem that begin with a dependent or subjunctive clause are best because one has to hear the main clause to get the meaning, sort of like resolving a chord. I think this is a skillful use of that rule, but the interesting thing, despite the grammar, is that everything depends on the dependent clause. "Because he lives---" and then the writer could add the main facts in Jesus' life, and many main clauses about what that meant in the life of the singer. Bill wrote the melody as she wrote the text and it became a hit. It is known around the world as you can see here. Some added Jesus Loves me to be sung along with it and that works well.
Bill and Gloria and the Gaithers
Yonsel Central Baptist Mass choir and orchestra
Choir and orchestra
Cornerstone Children’s choir
Bill and Gloria talking together at the piano last April