It was over fifty years ago, that John Peterson began writing gospel songs. He was one of the most prolific song writers over an extended period of time. He was one of the staff members of Radio Station WMBI, a prominent Christian radio station in mid-America. During that time, two unknown young men, Dick Anthony and Bill Pearce, joined his staff. These three men became associates. Frequently, almost daily, Peterson would write a song. Dick and Bill would sing it on one of their radio programs.
One of these songs, OVER THE SUNSET MOUNTAINS, became one of their favorites. They recorded it at the RCA VICTOR STUDIOS in Chicago. It was well received by both Christians and non-Christians. In fact the president of a large publishing house invited John Peterson and Dick Anthony to his office to discuss the possibility of recording the song for wide distribution. They were promised that the song would do well on the hit-parade. They would receive fame and fortune. The president made one request of them. . ."Mr. Peterson, if you make just one change in the lyrics, we will publish your song. If you just remove the word "Jesus," I think your song could be a big hit". Some of the words to the song went like this:
Over the sunset mountains, some day I'll softly go
Into the arms of Jesus, He who has loved me so.
Over the sunset mountains, Heaven awaits for me,
Over the sunset mountains, Jesus my Savior I'll see.
Dick waited to hear what John Peterson would say. He responded, "I cannot remove the word Jesus, for without Him there is no hope of spending eternity in heaven. I will not remove His name." Consequently the song was rejected. As they drove back to the school and to their very modest housing, they made a promise to the Lord, that in their music they would endeavor to keep Jesus in the central place.
A few days later, John called Dick to re-affirm their previous commitment. He had written another song, entitled MY SONG, and he dedicated it to Dick. Here are some of the words:
Why should I sing of lesser things and things that pass away,
When I've a Friend like Jesus now to sing about each day.
I have no song to sing, but that of Christ my King.
To Him my praise I'll bring, forever more.
I find no more delight in other songs
My melody of love, to Christ belongs.
The apostle Paul had the same approach to life and ministry, frequently addressed in his writings . . . taken from the NKJV:
• He desired that Christ be magnified in my body whether by life or by death (Phil. 1:20).
• He boldly stated . . . For to me to live is Christ (Phil 1:21).
• In the Colossian epistle, after speaking of the centrality of Christ in creation, in history, and in heaven, he appeals to believers . . . that in all things, he may have the pre-eminence (Col. 1:18).
Paul stated the case for the pre-eminence of Christ in everything. That's the call for you and me to make Him the Lord. John Peterson and Dick Anthony boldly stated their supreme commitment to Jesus. For them, it was a specific moment when they made their commitment.
For you and me, whether there is a decisive moment or not, more likely there is a day to day commitment, or as another song writer states it . . . MOMENT BY MOMENT.
Founder, Senior Associate