Sunday, July 30, 2017

Where No One Stands Alone -- Mosie Lister

This fellow was by himself, but then again, he really wasn’t. He was physically alone, yet anything but abandoned. A road in the northern part of Georgia (with scenery off  to the side perhaps something like this picture, near Helen) was where Mosie Lister was en route to somewhere, when he must have been thinking of solitude. “Where No One Stands Alone” was a place and a circumstance that Mosie thought really mattered more than that isolated car trip in the hilly area where he found himself that day. He thought about not just some temporary methods to get himself through that lonely stretch of road, but about his whole life and beyond. Mosie would need more that what crossed his mind that day in 1955; he would, in fact, need some other inspiration a year later to complete the thought that began during his automobile journey.

The 34-year old Thomas Mosie Lister had lived only about one-third of his life when he composed the first portion of “Where No One Stands Alone”. He’d been composing for 15-20 years already, so he knew what he was doing, and had discovered that time in a car was not wasted. No, he said that something about the pulse of the car helped his mind concoct musical ideas. On that day in 1955, he sang the song’s chorus section, with only the air in the vehicle for company.  He’d certainly felt lonely, at least a few times, and expected to encounter additional similar experiences. And, there was also the ‘unknown’ that no one eagerly anticipates. So Mosie, who’d been in the car countless times, came up with his own therapy for loneliness. He admits the chorus was not accompanied by verses for many months; perhaps the time by himself in a vehicle was what really got to his spirit initially, like what other people might say who feel abandonment acutely. You just call out for the touch of someone else. Later, he says he sought to write the verses by thinking of another lonely person’s desperation. What was it like for him, Lister mused, as he read the great Psalmist David’s words (Psalm 27)? That’s when the words flowed, and Mosie found the rest of his musical voice. What was it like to be king, and yet feel forsaken? That’s where I don’t want to be, Mosie reasoned. And, if God could answer David, he’ll listen for my forlorn voice too. What Mosie couldn’t have known at that point, was that he’d be around as a mortal for nearly another 60 years, before standing in the ‘unknown’ territory of eternity. He had plenty of life remaining, multiple ventures to pursue, songs to write, honors to accumulate. But, nothing else matters if you don’t have companionship.

Mosie would go on to write hundreds of songs and be inducted into two music halls of fame (Gospel Music, 1976; Southern Gospel Musical Association, 1997) before retiring from mortal existence and earning his next life’s reward after 93 years. What did he learn along the way? While he wrote about lonesomeness-avoidance, it’s revealing that Mosie must have sought some isolation while living – otherwise, he couldn’t have written “Where No One…”. I couldn’t read and write about Mosie, if not for some alone time too. There was another fellow who was alone once, also (1 Kings 19) – and discovered that he wasn’t, in spite of everything. You think that maybe being alone, is really to discover you’re not alone after all? Listen for Him. He’s there.    

The following was the only source for the above song story: Stories Behind Popular Songs and Hymns, by Lindsay Terry, Baker Book House, 1990 and 1992.  
See also the following for the composer’s biography:

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