Saturday, August 22, 2015

I Will Serve You -- Gloria and William Gaither

They had already been doing this for several years, so when this couple of ex-school teachers said “I Will Serve You”, could they have meant that this service would evolve somehow? Bill and Gloria Gaither were a fairly young couple living in central Indiana in 1969 (see map-picture here), who’d made a start and were letting their love of faith and music take them in a direction that just a few years before they had treated as their hobby. This songwriting to express their shared faith had been a diversion – an avid one, certainly – but Bill and Gloria must have felt this turn away from their jobs, and toward music, was right. To serve Him required more focus.

The Gaithers’ lives intersected in Midwestern America in the 1950s and early 1960s and became glued together because of their common faith and musical interest. Both had been students at Anderson College (now a university) in Indiana, a school geared especially for Christian believers, and perhaps this was where their musical muscles began to really grow. Bill formed his first singing group, the Gaither Trio, while at Anderson in the mid-to-late 1950s. Though Gloria’s musical expression is less clear while she was at Anderson (a few years after Bill), its character was evident by the early 1960s when she and Bill married and soon were writing songs together. They both taught school at Alexandria High – he, an English teacher, and she, a French teacher. Their dual lives as teachers and musicians was quite demanding, however, and by 1967 Bill had traded in his teaching credentials for full-time music pursuits. Both Gaithers continued to tour with the Gaither Trio, although Gloria would also later continue to follow her teacher’s instincts and become a professor. Both contributed to more than 700 songs over their next 40-50 years together. “I Will Serve You” was what they both said in 1969, soon after they chose to make songwriting in the Christian music industry an expression of their beliefs and their life’s work, so perhaps it could be said that 33-year old Bill and 27-year old Gloria were looking expectantly to the next several decades.     

Bill and Gloria have been surrounded by lots of Christians who supported and identified with them as young college students up until today, decades later. Was it their own ‘heartaches’ and ‘ruined lives’ they confessed in the song’s refrain, or others they knew? Probably some of both. They also felt it was important to say that redeemed life is real. Lots of both good and bad might come their way from 1969 onward, but these two Indianans had seen enough already in their few decades to place their lot firmly in His corner. Does what they did in 1969 make you review your past and preview your future? How’s it look?

See these sites for information on composers and where they live:,_Indiana

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