Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

'Unanimous' wonders why so many verses of 'Just as I Am' that wayback Sunday

Remembering that protracted service of over 50 years ago and the seemingling endless repetitions of that 'altar call' writer still can't pull the trigger and listen to even the great Willie Nelson sing the song. As old man Ferd was wont to say, "Well, boys, hit's a true piece," or at least mostly. I may have spackled and sanded and used two big words as garnishment. Otherwise, it's as nigh to truth as you might find this side of the Holy Writ. - UNANIMOUS
'Unanimous' can't pull the trigger, but you can, by clicking on the headline to read his whole piece, for a story hardly a single South Central Kentucky churchgoer of the mid 20th can't remember, in the same or similar circumstance.

By "Unanimous"

A recent conversation with a long time friend about Willie Nelson led me to YouTube to several of the hymns ol' Willie has recorded over the years - songs remembered from my earliest years. As I listened to the familiar strains of Uncloudy Day, Are You Washed, Lily of the Valley, and others that hold such precious memories, I found myself for the space of a few minutes carried back to Sunday mornings at the First Church of the Sacred Triangle. However, I simply couldn't "pull the trigger" and take a listen to the instantly recognizable Just as I Am.

I have nothing against the song, at least not directly, but...

"Unanimous, to this day, can't pull the trigger on this song, without wondering what was going on in those two hearts - the preacher and someone out in one of those pews in the First Church of his childhood:

One Sunday when I was about 10 or 11, Just as I Am was the altar call song, and the minister knew in his heart of hearts someone in the congregation needed to come forward. (If you aren't intimately familiar with the expressions "altar call" and "come forward," you likely didn't grow up in mid-20th-century Kentucky, and I don't have enough years left to explain them.)

Anyway, Bro. ------- was convinced someone needed to come down the aisle that morning, so we kept singing, verses one through four. Then he preached a while, pled a while, prayed a while - and cued the pianist and organist to recommence playing. We sang all four verses a second time, still with no respondents, and once again...well, re-read this sentence for what came next. By the time the last notes faded away, we'd gone through twelve verses of a slow song, noon had come and gone, the young'uns were fussy, stomachs were protesting, the grownups were sliding not-so-surreptitious looks both at their timepieces and the preacher, and the latter-named worthy was on the verge of tears.

Still, he cued the musicians to keep playing and the congregation to keep singing, but finally, after the 14th verse, he called it quits with a quick closing prayer, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief and went home. In the ensuing half-century and more since that sunny Sunday morning, I've wondered now and anon what was really transpiring in whose heart(s) that day - but I still can't deal with Just as I Am.

This story was posted on 2016-05-21 11:32:20
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.