I was saddened to read this week of the death of John W. Peterson on September 20 ( I was living in another world during September). I was instantly taken back to my childhood growing up at Sunnyside Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Some of my favorite songs to sing in church were "Drinking at the Springs of Living Water," "Jesus is Coming Again," "Surely Goodness and Mercy," and, what was my favorite hymn at the time, "Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled My Soul." Plus, I remember some of his cantatas, like Night of Miracles and No Greater Love, which we did during college at Hazel Dell Baptist Church.
But, I mostly remember Peterson's songs from morning car rides to school with my mom, who always took that time to sing every verse of hymns she knew with me so that I could learn them. As a church pianist since about 1958, she knows a lot! She's been a church musician for so long that even if she plays a popular song, it sounds like an offertory (as my sister is quick to point out). But I am forever grateful for the love of hymns she passed on to me.
And, even though Peterson is sometimes considered passé, many of his hymns are really enjoyable to sing, with fabulous tenor counterpoint lines. Sing a couple, and think of the composers and poets who have so impacted so many people's lives.