By C. Michael Hawn
“Through It All”
by Andraé Crouch
The United Methodist Hymnal, 507
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus;
I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon his word.*
* © 1971 Manna Music, Inc. All rights reserved.
The refrain of this hymn became the title for the autobiography written by Andraé Edward Crouch (1945–2015) with Nina Ball in 1974. Each chapter cites one of Crouch’s songs. The first chapter concludes with this excerpt that appears to be a commentary on the stanzas of “Through It All”:
The hardest thing about always being on the go is leaving your home, your local community, the relatives and friends you see every day to suddenly open up your life to everybody all over the world. You become involved with more and more people and there is so much heartache it can break you. I had to learn to rely totally on the Lord. Totally.
But God sends the mountains. . . to lift us up from the valleys. . ., and He gives us strength to travel through it all—through the up times and through the down times. I just thank Him for everything, all the tears—tears of sorrow, tears of joy—for the problems, and the trust, the faith, His Word, His Holy Spirit, and for Jesus. Through it all He brings a blessed harmony to life. Knowing Him, belonging to Him, is enough. Praise His name (Crouch, 1974, p. 17).
Some hymnals cite only the refrain, especially mainline collections for predominately Anglo congregations, while hymnals coming out of the African American experience include the original three stanzas with the refrain. Inclusion of the stanzas, however, shifts the message of the song from a chorus on the journey theme to a testimony about how the singer encounters the abiding presence of God throughout life. From the excerpt quoted above, it becomes clearer that this hymn is autobiographical – each stanza beginning with a description of an aspect of the composer’s life journey. The second half of the stanza recognizes the consolation and comfort provided by Jesus. This approach turns the song into a testimony – a personal witness of God’s companionship throughout life.
Stanza 1, beginning with “I’ve had many tears and sorrows,” is reflected in Crouch’s narrative above. He acknowledges that at times “I didn’t know right from wrong.” However, at all times, “God gave blessed consolation.” Stanza 2—beginning with “I’ve been to lots of places, / And I’ve seen a lot of faces”—recounts the many travels that Crouch had taken in his ministry and the impact that others had on his life. He traveled with his group, The Disciples, to sixty-eight countries. His autobiography describes numerous encounters with others on his journeys. Though with crowds on these pilgrimages, people who travel extensively often describe the loneliness of the road. The stanza concludes with an awareness that “Jesus lets me know I was his own.” The final stanza—beginning with “I thank God for the mountains, / And I thank him for the valleys”—returns to a theme found in his first song, “The Blood Shall Never Lose Its Power” (1962). Reminiscent of “When the Storms of Life Are Raging” by Methodist preacher Charles Tindley (1851–1933), Crouch gives thanks to God “for the storms [Jesus] brought me through,” concluding that if he hadn’t had these trials, “I’d never know what faith in God would do.”
While the refrain may stand on its own, it is the power of the refrain as a response to the stanzas that brings the testimonial nature of this hymn full circle. The stanzas, though autobiographical from Crouch’s perspective, are transparent enough to relate to the experience of many others. This is, indeed, the hallmark of the text of a good hymn – while drawn from the author’s background, it articulates the experience of others who sing it.
The song was written in 1971 when Andraé Crouch and The Disciples were on a concert tour in California, where the composer was in a time of deep disillusion and disappointment. Minutes after the completion of the song, there was an earthquake in the San Fernando Valley where the concert was taking place (Stanislaw and Hustad, 1992, p. 152). While several scripture passages are relevant, commentators most often cite Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (KJV).
African American hymnologist and historian Jon Michael Spencer (now known as Yahya Jongintaba) offers a theological reflection on this song as a part of a larger analysis of black hymnody:
The music of Andraé Crouch occasionally characterizes life as full of sleepless nights, burdens, and wickedness. Crouch also applies the customary means of consoling the disconsolate by heralding the virtues of cross-bearing. [At this point Spencer cites the final stanza of “Through It All,” beginning with stanza 3, “I thank God for the mountains.”] Nonetheless, in highlighting the entity of power in the Holy Ghost and in the “name” and the “blood” of Jesus, Crouch places far greater emphasis on the joy of “crown-wearing” than on the sorrow of “cross-bearing.” . . . . Crouch depicts God’s humanity in a much more positive light. . . Crouch hopes that heaven will be his “final home,” and he urges believers to be ready for Christ’s return. . . . [T]here is neither a sense of anticulturalism [or] being radical in his music nor of urgency to get to heaven at the earliest opportunity (Spencer, 1990, pp. 119–220).
In addition to “Through It All,” The United Methodist Hymnal contains three of Crouch’s songs: “My Tribute” (99) and “Soon and Very Soon” (706). The Faith We Sing includes his well-known “Bless His Holy Name” (2015), and two African American United Methodist supplements—Songs of Zion and Zion Still Sings—include “The Blood Shall Never Lose Its Power.” This attests to two things: (1) United Methodists have a broad ethnic constituency and (2) Crouch’s songs speak to the spiritual experience of those from a spectrum of cultural/racial backgrounds. Relevant to the second point, columnist Ruthie Oberg notes:
The impact of Andrae Crouch’s influence on contemporary Christian music in the 1970s and forward is impossible to quantify. For the first time, mainstream Christian radio stations were playing music performed by a black man for white audiences on a large scale. Crouch’s concerts drew both black and white audiences at a time when most concerts were segregated whether by intention or not (Oberg, 2018, n.p.).
Together, these four hymns provide only the slimmest selection of his more than 350 songs on more than thirty albums.
The first hymnals to include this song were for evangelical congregations – Hymns for the Family of God (1976), edited by Fred Bock, and The New Church Hymnal (1976), edited by Ralph Carmichael, coming out the same year. These were followed by another evangelical hymnal, Praise! Our Songs and Hymns (1979), compiled by John W. Peterson. The first African American hymnal to include this hymn was Yes Lord! Church of God in Christ Hymnal (1982), Crouch’s own denomination. This hymnal paved the way for recognition in later African American collections.
In this YouTube example, a younger Crouch in his prime sings “Through It All” at a Billy Graham Crusade in New Mexico in 1975. Compare Crouch’s presentation at a Gaither gathering thirty-seven years later (2012), accompanying at the piano with celebrated gospel singer Cece Winans (b. 1964) singing the vocals.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Andraé Crouch in the gospel music field during the last fifty years. Perhaps no other African American gospel composer-performer has had such a sustained level of accomplishment and recognition: seven Grammys, three Dove awards, an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Motion Picture Score for the film The Color Purple (1985), induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998, and much more. His fortieth-anniversary album, Mighty Wind, was released in 2006. Crouch composed more than 350 songs, many of which appear on more than thirty albums.
Born with a twin sister, Sandra Elaine, in Los Angeles, he grew up in a church founded by his father, Benjamin Crouch, who was in the cleaning business while pastoring Christ Memorial Church of God in Christ, a congregation in the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ (COGIC) tradition. The entire family loved music. Sandra and Andraé would sing together as children, making up church songs as a part their play. Andraé constructed his own cardboard keyboard, stretched it out on a bedroom cabinet, and “practiced.” They wore out their favorite gospel vinyl albums on the record player (Crouch, 1974, pp. 22–23).
It was in his father’s church that Andraé began to sing and formed his first singing group, the COGICS (Church of God in Christ Singers), in 1960. Andraé would join a host of other COGIC musical luminaries that included Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915–1973), Walter (1949–2010) and Edwin (1943–2018) Hawkins, the O’Neal twins – Edgar (1937–2008) and Edward (1937–1990), and Vanessa Bell Armstrong (b. 1953) (Boyer, 1995, p. 24). In 1965, Crouch founded the Disciples singing group and, upon the advice of Christian composer Ralph Carmichael (b. 1927), began to record his compositions in 1969. From 1965-1985, Andraé Crouch and the Disciples performed in numerous venues, such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, the Hollywood Bowl, and Carnegie Hall. The Disciples toured sixty-eight countries. The songs contained in most hymnals come from this period.
The COGICS recorded Crouch’s first song, “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” (1962), a song that continues to be one of his most popular compositions. “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” then appeared on the debut Disciples album, Take the Message Everywhere (1968), produced by Ralph Carmichael for Manna Music.
For Further Reading
Horace Clarence Boyer, How Sweet the Sound: The Golden Age of Gospel (Washington, D.C.: Elliott and Clark Publishing, 1995).
Andraé Crouch (with Nina Ball), Through It All (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1974).
Tony Jasper, “Andraé Crouch: His Life and Legacy,” Christianity Today (January 9, 2015), https://www.christiantoday.com/article/andrae.crouch.his.life.and.legacy/45701.htm?print=1, (accessed December 16, 2020).
Ruthie Edgerly Oberg, “Andraé Crouch: The COGIC Minister Who Bridged the Racial Gap in Gospel Music,” This Week in AG History—May 22, 1977: Assemblies of God News (May 24, 2018), https://news.ag.org/features/this-week-in-ag-history-may-22-1977, (accessed December 16, 2020).
Jon Michael Spencer, Protest and Praise: Sacred Music of Black Religion (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990).
Richard J. Stanislaw and Donald P. Hustad, Dictionary-Handbook to the Worshiping Church: A Hymnal  (Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Company, 1992).
The United Methodist Hymnal
C. Michael Hawn, D.M.A., F.H.S., is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music and Adjunct Professor, and Director, Doctor of Pastoral Music Program at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
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One of the numerous songs
Hymns are religious songs which praise God or gods. Hymns can be traced to many ancient cultures, including ancient Egypt, India, and Greece. Christian hymns in Medieval times included Latin psalm texts from the Old Testament set to simple melodies called a Gregorian chant and sung by monastic choirs.What was the first hymn in history? ›
“Hurrian Hymn No. 6” is considered the world's earliest melody, but the oldest musical composition to have survived in its entirety is a first century A.D. Greek tune known as the “Seikilos Epitaph.” The song was found engraved on an ancient marble column used to mark a woman's gravesite in Turkey.Who sang the song through it all? ›
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In both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, Paul commands gathered believers to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, thereby “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph. 5:19) and “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).When did the church start using hymns? ›
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The Oxyrhynchus hymn (or P. Oxy. XV 1786) is the earliest known manuscript of a Christian Greek hymn to contain both lyrics and musical notation.What is the most recorded hymn of all time? ›
With over 6,600 different recorded versions, 'Amazing Grace' has been hailed as the most recorded song on the planet by a Nashville music executive by the name of Jerry Bailey.Who is the father of hymns? ›
Isaac Watts, (born July 17, 1674, Southampton, Hampshire, England—died November 25, 1748, Stoke Newington, London), English Nonconformist minister, regarded as the father of English hymnody.
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Aish, Carolyn Ann. On cover: Hymn of the Bible today. Accompanying texts to the music edition of Sing God's song.Why churches no longer sing hymns? ›
Too many songs, too fast
Then there's the overwhelming number of worship songs available to churches. In the past, churches had a limited number of songs they could sing. A hymnal might have about 700 songs, and maybe half of those would be used on a regular basis, says Harland.
Ephesians 5:19 says, “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” It is to him and about him that we sing! Singing has such a unique way of bringing your heart, soul, mind, and strength together to focus entirely and completely on God.Why do Christians sing hymns? ›
Praising – songs and hymns help Christians to worship God and thank Him for the good things He has done for them.Why hymns are so important? ›
Church hymns are a form of worship; they serve as a prayer of thanks and an expression of commitment. Many hymns build unity among the Saints as well as build a community of Saints. They invite the Spirit into meetings and into our lives. They teach doctrine.
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Gospel music was born from the traditional hymns and spiritual songs the Africans sang during the slave era. The spirituals were songs of hope sung by the enslaved people before freedom/emancipation. The traditional hymns were introduced in the United States by the Europeans who had settled in North America.What is the most famous church hymn? ›
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A sequence (Latin: sequentia, plural: sequentiae) is a chant or hymn sung or recited during the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations, before the proclamation of the Gospel.Which book of the Bible records many hymns? ›
The Psalms were the hymnbook of the Old Testament Jews. Most of them were written by King David of Israel.Who really wrote Amazing Grace? ›
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This is according to "The Summertime Connection", a group of fans from around the world with a shared passion for the aria, written by Gershwin in 1933–34 for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. As of the same date, the group had collected 57,316 full recordings of "Summertime".What is the most heard song in the world? ›
1. 'Blinding Lights' by The Weeknd (3.59 billion streams)Which hymn speaks of God as holy? ›
Lord God Almighty!" is a Christian hymn written by the Anglican bishop Reginald Heber (1783–1826). "Holy, Holy, Holy!Who wrote the first hymn book? ›
The music and parts of the text of a hymn in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri from the 2nd century are the earliest known hymnody. The earliest exactly datable hymn is the Heyr Himna Smi¢ur (Hear, the Maker of Heaven) from 1208 by the Icelandic bard and chieftain Kolbeinn Tumason (1173-1208).
“Hymns are theology,” says Methodist academic and musician Steven Kimbrough, and whether we realize it or not, every time we open our mouths to sing a song in church, the words we sing (and even the melody, the music itself) say something about who God is, for us.What singing voice is Lady Gaga? ›
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Germanotta was born on March 28, 1986 into an Italian American family in New York City. She showed musical promise early on — she played piano from age 4 and went on to perform at open-mic nights.Which of the following gospel singers was abandoned by his mother? ›
Kirk Dewayne Franklin was born on January 26, 1970, in Fort Worth, Texas, and was raised by his aunt after his mother abandoned him as a baby. He joined the church choir and eventually became the music director of the Mt.What ever happened to Andre Crouch? ›
Andraé Crouch, a gospel musician who bridged the worlds of church and mainstream music for more than 50 years, died Thursday afternoon. The 72-year-old singer, songwriter and choir director had been hospitalized since Saturday at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in the Los Angeles area after suffering a heart attack.Is Andraé Crouch still alive? › What songs has Taylor Swift written but not sang? ›
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Scholars credit the world's oldest Christmas hymn-song to the 4th century in France and written by St. Hilary of Poitier (c310-367). The carol was “Jesus Refulsit Omnium” (“Jesus, Light of All the Nations” aka “Jesus Illuminates all”).What was the first hymnal in America? ›
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The oldest surviving written music is the Hurrian songs from Ugarit, Syria. Of these, the oldest is the Hymn to Nikkal (hymn no. 6; h. 6), which is somewhat complete and dated to c.Who wrote the most famous hymns? ›
Isaac Watts, born in 1674, authored some 750 hymns in his lifetime. Known as “The Godfather of English Hymnody,” he began making rhymes as a very small child.What is the most famous English hymn? ›
1. 'Amazing Grace'. Published in 1779, this is one of the best-known hymns in the English language, with words by John Newton. Newton became curate of the small parish of Olney in Buckinghamshire (not far north of the modern town of Milton Keynes) and wrote 'Amazing Grace' to illustrate a sermon on New Year's Day 1773.What is the oldest hymn ever written? ›
The Hurrian Hymn was discovered in the 1950s on a clay tablet inscribed with Cuneiform text. It's the oldest surviving melody and is over 3,400 years old. The hymn was discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarit, now part of modern-day Syria, and is dedicated the Hurrians' goddess of the orchards Nikkal.What is the shortest church hymn? ›
|Rank||Title||Run Time (seconds)|
|1||Softly Now the Light of Day||51|
|2||Father, This Hour Has Been One of Joy||55|
|3||Keep the Commandments||67|
|4||Hear Thou Our Hymn, O Lord (2 verses)||68|
"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks. It also became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond. "The Box" charted at No.What is the origin of church songs? ›
This musical form originated in Monastic life, in which singing the 'Divine Service' nine times a day at the proper hours was upheld according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. Singing psalms made up a large part of the life in a monastic community, while a smaller group and soloists sang the chants.
hymn. noun. ˈhim. : a song of praise especially to God. : a religious song.
Church hymns are a form of worship; they serve as a prayer of thanks and an expression of commitment. Many hymns build unity among the Saints as well as build a community of Saints. They invite the Spirit into meetings and into our lives. They teach doctrine.Why are hymns so powerful? ›
Hymns are God-centered and call our attention upward. They are lofty in message and lift us above the earthy. They remind us of our original glory that preceded any “original sin” and remind us of God's intention to see that glory restored in us.What is the biblical meaning of the word hymns? ›
Hymn [N] [E] a religious song or psalm. ( Ephesians 5:19 ; Colossians 3:16 ) Our Lord and his apostles sung a hymn after the last supper. In the jail at Philippi, Paul and Silas "sang hymns" (Authorized Version "praises") unto God, and so loud was their song that their fellow prisoners heard them.What is the oldest church hymn? ›
The Oxyrhynchus hymn (or P. Oxy. XV 1786) is the earliest known manuscript of a Christian Greek hymn to contain both lyrics and musical notation.What is the first worship song in the Bible? ›
Song of Moses - Wikipedia.When did worship start in the Bible? ›
Bauckham has argued that Sunday worship must have originated in Palestine in the mid-1st century, in the period of the Acts of the Apostles, no later than the Gentile mission; he regards the practice as universal by the early 2nd century with no hint of controversy (unlike.What is the difference between a spiritual song and a hymn? ›
A hymn is a song that gives praise to the Lord. Spirituals songs are more general. A spiritual song might express the joy of one's salvation, or give honor to God, but a spiritual song can communicate a variety of themes.What is the difference between hymns and worship songs? ›
Hymns have been sung for over hundreds of years and combine music, melody, and harmony in such a way that it reinforces positivity. Praise songs, also called worship songs, are informal songs sung in churches in praise of God. Music is the main defining feature of praise songs instead of the lyrics or words.What does the Bible say about singing hymns? ›
Ephesians 5:19 says, “singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” It is to him and about him that we sing! Singing has such a unique way of bringing your heart, soul, mind, and strength together to focus entirely and completely on God.What is God's purpose for music? ›
Throughout Scripture, music has been explicitly and implicitly demonstrated to be a gift or blessing from God Almighty. It is through this gift that man can render praise and thanksgiving to Him, as well as give expression to his emotions—from the most profound sorrow to the most exhilarating joy.
A hymnal or hymnary is a collection of hymns, usually in the form of a book, called a hymnbook (or hymn book). They are used in congregational singing.