Monday, December 7, 2009

In His Presence – Dick and Melodie Tunney

Dick and Melodie Tunney might not look like it, nor sound like it, but they needed help in the 1980s. This musical couple met in the 1970s while on tour with the group TRUTH, married, became well-entrenched and successful in the Christian music industry in Nashville, Tennessee, and once again toured all over in the 1980s. Busy. That’s how the Tunneys’ lives were. And, in between all this hubbub, they began raising two daughters. Sound familiar? I take a day off, just to vegetate, when life’s tempo overwhelms me. They probably did some of the same things you and I do to manage the hectic pace. On the other hand, a few words from a song they co-wrote in 1988, “In His Presence”, suggest this composition was part of an atypical therapy for them.

By 1986, both Dick and Melodie were travelling with “Let There Be Praise”, an effort that covered 150 cities over the next 18 months. Let’s see, that’s probably on average two cities every week, a really intensive way to pile up the frequent flier miles. It’s no surprise, then, that the song they wrote in 1988 might say something about this whirlwind. “In His Presence” tells us they found ‘comfort’, ‘peace’, and ‘assurance’ from the One they worship. It’s a brief, straightforward message they coax us to sing, a common thread all of us need to embrace at times. That’s really the only way to cope with turmoil – stop, and get help. No, strike that. Not help, which implies I need only assistance from God. Instead, the Tunneys asked Him to cover them, to envelop them. The next few years of the Tunneys biography tell us they took other measures also, perhaps listening to the Spirit’s call in the song they wrote. They relate that the touring had separated them periodically over a 15-month stretch, and that eventually, a decision had to be made. They returned home, to a quieter pace, after praying and listening to counsel. Their family took priority, albeit for a brief few years, and then they took their music on the road to 400 churches over a 12-year span. By the time daughters Whitney and Kelsey were high-schoolers, the Tunney parents once again slowed down.

Were they listening to the song’s message again, asking for the peace God provides? It seems to be a message well-calibrated for the Tunneys, and for me too, over the long haul. I don’t travel as much nor think I’ll write over 150 songs like the Tunneys in my life. (The Tunneys now also manage a seminar, based on the example in 1 Chronicles 25:7, to teach music and worship principles to others.) Nevertheless, there’s plenty in the space I occupy to consume this traveler’s time and effort, and so I identify with Dick and Melodie. With His presence, I don’t just exist, though – there’s more to me than the space I inhabit. I can think about transformation and renewal with the Tunneys’ song.

Information on the Tunneys was obtained from the book “The Complete Book of Hymns – Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs”, by William J. and Ardythe Petersen, 2006.

Also see the following websites for information about the Tunneys.

1 comment:

Aben David said...

thanks buddy,I have a music score before me ,searching this song by dick and mel tunney and came across your blog.It makes sense now and it lifts me to want to play this song at church,but first I want to take a listen to it on youtube ,gota watch cover versions but hey,theres something about His presence .Thanks buddy for your words.