Friday 9 February 2007

The Dwight Stuff

You can tell a lot about a church by looking at their hymnal. Just cast a critical eye over what's on offer and you'll get a fairly accurate feel for the sponsoring denomination or group.

Take the Fred Coulter hymnal for example (you can download a copy here.) Like most COG sects, the impressively named Christian Biblical Church of God has produced its own songbook. It's not large – 75 odd pages (some odder than others). That compares with around 130 in the WCG's old purple book (available in PDF here), 310 in the 1993 version, and – crossing to another tradition entirely – 950 in the Lutheran Book of Worship.

The first thing you notice is that most of the hymns are simply reproduced from the purple book. The multi-talented Mr. Coulter has put together a couple of his own with the able assistance of Mary Schaeffer (modestly placed in the front of the publication), and there's a smattering of non-COG favorites to bulk it out (Sweet Hour of Prayer, Blessed Assurance etc.) Herb would have had a hernia!

The volume is copyrighted 2002, which is well before WCG put Dwight Armstrong's creations into the public domain, so presumably Fred arranged permission to include them. (If you feel the nostalgia rising, one of the best online resources is here, where you can listen to tunes from the "old gray" Radio Church of God hymnal, the purple replacement, the 93 version, CGI's 1990s book and UCG's 1997 song booklet... knock yourself out!)

I'm not sure whether the fact that Holy, Mighty Majesty! still gets an occasional airing in various living rooms on Saturday mornings is a comfort or not. And, more to the point, would it still be possible to sing Behold the Day Will Come without thinking “1972”?

The sad fact is that I'm still fond of some of those old chestnuts. Prolonged exposure can do that to you. They get under your skin and slowly work their way out again decades later while you're driving between cities and unable to handle another moment of talk-radio or formulaic radio ga-ga.

But even more bizarre is the reality that, when some of us were wide-eyed members, trotting along to weekly services with the hymnal, wide-margin KJV and notebook inside regulation briefcase, we actually found Dwight's dire dirges painful. Go figure.


Steve said...

Oh, yes, those old "glory days" hymns! They stay with you like a pain in the ass. I occasionally find myself humming one while I'm taking a shower or sitting on the toilet. My wife can't believe that I still haven't let go entirely. She says the reason is because I spend too much time on the internet talking to others who can't seem to let go either. :-)

Steve K

Anonymous said...

Sometimes when strolling merrily along memory lane with my family, feastie stories will come up as will the inevitable reference to a couple of well as some of the more hilarious lengths some people would go through to be heard above everyone else!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if old Nazi soldiers get nostalgic about their "youth" and glory days, and play their hymns for "teary eyed" strolls down memory lane??

ANSWER: Yes they do!

So it is worth noting that even the most dysfunctional and bizaare of situations can evoke nostalgia and warm fuzzies! Even Nazism!

Human beings are a strange lot. We have selective memory, which minimizes the pain of the past, and over glorifies the good times.

Actually, maybe this is a good thing. Reality is often times a real BUMMER!


Anonymous said...

I am also once in a while visited by some of these old hymns. It is never a cordial visit, if I think about it for a while. I do not want to see evil lurking in every nook of Armstrongism, but these songs that most lay members thought were unique to Armstrongism, supported the sense of exclusivity that Armstrongites found to be delicious.

Into the very worship of God, ostensibly, was brought the smarmy attitude of "We're right and nobody else is."

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

Back in the '70s, I had quite a different vision of what the "new" WCG might look like, several decades in the future. At that time, the Tkach's were insignificant blips, barely registering on the radar screen. Like many other members, I assumed that the Armstrong dynasty would probably continue uninterrupted.
I never in my wildest dreams imagined that someone would take the WCG "evangelical".

Yeah, Mark Armstrong was wild, but then so had GTA been in his youth. So, I saw Mark as straightening out, eventually, and assuming a leadership role in his grandfather's church.

Mark had a band back then, and, like his father, was pretty much into music. So, I saw him as possibly composing some "rock" hymns to update the official WCG hymnal. His grandfather liked classical music, especially "The Messiah", and "The Elijah", and enjoyed bringing such luminaries as Yehudi Menuhin to the Auditorium, or "house for God" as he preferred to call it. So, I just assumed that when Mark took up the mantle, he might be bringing Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple to the "house for God", as representatives of the zenith of the rock genre. You know, the Armstrongian penchant for quality! Zep really could have rocked the house with the live version of "Houses of the Holy".

Was my futuristic vision better than what actually happened? Probably some would think so. If Mark reads this, we might find that it conforms fairly closely to what his own visions of the WCG of 2007 might have been. Whether he also goes along with my vision of the Feast of Tabernacles as a huge motorcycle rally and camp-out, kind of a WCG version of Sturgis, I have no clue.


Anonymous said...

Let us not forget that the fearless leader of UCG informed the brethen of his intention to improve the UCG issued hymnal.

This salvation specific project was believed to be his pet project,and was to be completed shortly after the 2006 FOT.

Will the new hymnal be little more than The Dwight Stuff on different pages?

Anonymous said...

Note to Dennis:

Your post was not on my mind, nor were you the object of my post.


Anonymous said...

Just for shits and grins: How many of you groaned (Inwardly or outwardly)any time the song leader announced a song longer than three verses or included instructions such as, "Women on verse two, Men on three?"

In the "New" hymnal that came out in the early 90's: Did anyone think that titling a song "God Loves a Cheerful Giver" was taking stewardship reminders a step too far?

Anonymous said...

There are some pretty awful songs in the old Dwight Armstrong repertoire. "Let Thy Chastening Be In Measure" and "Turn O God and Save Me" are virtually unsingable.

But some of those tunes aren't half bad, and I still find myself humming them every now and again. Actually, given the sorry state of religious music in modern Catholicism today, a lot of those old Dwight numbers sound a great deal better than most of what is inflicted on the average lay Catholic's ear these days.

Anonymous said...

Jared, Some of the protestant hymns are pretty bad too, but at least there is a wide variety to choose from and some of them I have hummed / sang even when I was in the WCG. I could never understand why simply existing in a protestant hymnal made it 'of satan'.

Most of you have probably never sung 'I Danced in the Morning' or 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' in a Marine Corps chapel on a Sunday morning; You have missed something special. 'Soon and Very Soon' in a predominately black church is truly inspiring.

On the flip side, the Trumpet intro to 'God Speaks to Us' was truly annoying. I still like 'Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken' but that isn't Dwight's and it is in my protestant hymnal.

I guess I went off-topic a bit, but that is my $.02 worth.

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember "Praise Ye the Lordo?"

Anonymous said...

It would be easier to join Luther and face the Diet of Worms than seek consensus on hymns -- it's a can of worms!

Anonymous said...

Actually I really liked the "trumpets before each stanza" of "God Speaks to Us"/"God of Our Fathers."

Oh, and we Catholics sing "Soon and Very Soon" every Advent.

Every Advent.

Yeah, I'm about ready to never hear that one again. That and every other traditional Negro spiritual sung by a rhythm-less White Boy choir or congregation . . . Really, folks, you may think it's, but it ain't cool. It just ain't. Please leave it to the truly gifted Children of Ham to sing spirituals. They know how to do it. We white folks just don't (well, most of us don't anyway).

jorgheinz said...

Ah yes. When one takes on the role of bathroom barrow-tone,the old tunes just keep popping out.

Glory, hallelujah, for the days of yore.

For those of us with deep South connections,"By The Ribbers, oops Waters of Babylon" and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" have a profundity of meaning.

It was said that Dwight Armstrong was given a strict time line in which to produce the original set of hymns,and as one deaconess in Worldwide remarked, "under those circumstances you cannot expect every one to be a cracker." She was right,of course.At least, they did set us apart from the rest,for that is what we wanted.

May the royal purple long remain as an artefact to keep our disgust fresh of the " good 'ole days".


Anonymous said...

Music was kind of a hot button in the WCG. When I was at AC Big Sandy, it seemed that the atmosphere was permeated with officially sanctioned classical music and hymns and also the unofficial rock music that the students listened to and sang incessantly and addictively.

I was at the Feast in Big Sandy in the late Seventies. HWA attended the Fun Night and the next morning lambasted the congregation for the music that was performed. This music included some Country and Western tunes and a really nice Beatles song ("Black Bird"). There was a variety of light popular music. After all, it was supposed to be fun. Most everybody made the mistake of enjoying it. HWA became extremely angry and strongly upbraided us as a congregation for even applauding such music. He yelled at us, as he scanned the audience from side to side with a frown on his face, "I saw you clapping!!!"

It was a very uncomfortable moment. The people who performed the Country and Western music left the Feast site the next day, I was told. Everyone walked around like kicked dogs.

The Fun Show was a little moment of brightness in an otherwise heavy and lowring atmosphere of church government. And it was sharply quashed.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

I heard that CGI and I assume ICG were allowed by GTA to sing hymns that HWA deemed too Protestant.

Is "O God our help in ages past" one of them?

I don't care for the "Songs of Worship" Time-Life style
like "Shine Jesus Shine" which probably WCG sings now
can anyone from WCG confirm this?

Anonymous said...

Fun Night ended up becoming Young Ambassadors film night at FOT.

Anonymous said...


That little narrative conjured up a mental image of a skit in which HWA plays Moses discovering that the Israelites had just built a couple of golden calves!


Anonymous said...

Yes " Shine, Jesus, Shine" was one of many 'praise and worship' songs sung in the WCG congregation I visited.

I liked it. I've got the printed sheet copy we used that day in my organ bench.

Anonymous said...

The UCG hymnal that has the added hymns is okay. It is a combo of some of the purple hymnal songs and some newer ones to the COG tradition. The problem arises when someone only does hymns from the addendum side, which many are slow and cumbersome, at least the Dwight Armstrong hymns had some pep to them. Some song leaders in UCG will put you to sleep with all snoozers. Where do they get the idea to do that?

Steve said...

Neotherm's comment: "I was at the Feast in Big Sandy in the late Seventies. HWA attended the Fun Night..."

Hey, I remember that! I was there too. I didn't care much for Country and Western twang. Still don't, so it didn't bother me when Herbie lambasted it.

Steve K

Anonymous said...

You Ain't lived unless you have heard "God Bless America" in Burmese. I remember having the tape of this one. It was quite a hoot.

Anonymous said...

Neo's comment: "HWA attended the Fun Night and the next morning lambasted the congregation for the music that was performed."

HWA had a rather narrow, puritanical view of what he considered to be good clean fun and in proper, wholesome musical taste. I wonder what he would think of an Ambassador College musical rendition of the Wizard of Oz based on his own real life story.

"Follow The Yellow Brick Road" would be based on his goldbricking journey from Oregon to Pasadena; while teaching daughter Dorothy lessons on the missing dimensions in his god family, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"; and when Loma died from an intestinal blockage, "Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch Is Dead" now can he raise much more bread.

Pay no attention to the real man behind the Envoy!

Barry Chase

Steve said...

Barry's comment: "I wonder what he(HWA)would think of an Ambassador College musical rendition of the Wizard of Oz based on his own real life story."

We could call it the "Apostle of Ez". Since Joey jr already has that position, it would be Ez for him to play that role. But, who would want to play the part of Dorothy? It would have to be R rated. The lion could be played by Gerald Flurry who seems to devour his own flock. The scarecrow could be played by Spanky who seems to keep getting a little rusty being stuck in time, but keeps oiling himself when problems crop up. The scarecrow would be played by some UCG head honcho who keeps stuffing dollar bills under his clothes. Uh, let's see, who could be the little munchkins? :-)

Steve K

Douglas Becker said...

I have a genuine question perhaps someone can answer: For years there has been more than just a rumor that Dwight Armstrong plagiarized many of the hymns, but it isn't clear what that actually means or where he plagiarized them from? Was the plagiarism the tune or the tune and the words?

Mr. Robert Dick told the Seattle congregation about a sect which had produced hundreds and perhaps thousands of songs, but only a few were of lasting value. I have wondered since then whether this particular sect, whose name I can't remember from centuries past was the one from which Dwight Armstrong plagiarized the songs?

Does anyone know?

Beyond that, I have made up my own words to some of the songs, among them are, "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken", "I hate the Thoughts of Vanity", "In Thy Loving Kindness Lord", "It Won't be Long Now", "O How Love I Thy Law!", "Twas not a Foe", "Onward Christian Soldiers", "The Wicked Man", "Turn Thou From Evil", "When Israel Out of Egypt Went", "Blessed and Happy is The Man" and "By the Waters of Babylon". It is a hobby which significantly reduces my stress over "Church Wars", which, if you think about it, might be a grand work of music in its own right accompanying the full length movie. Face it, dealing with the aftermath of what we have experienced is stressful, and, I suspect, instead of adding an average of seven years to life as it does for most churchgoers, it probably significantly reduces the length of life would would have had even normally. You won't be seeing my words to the songs any time soon.

There is a blue paper bound hymnal in use by at least four of the smallest churches of God -- one of which has four members including the minister -- which has 128 songs in it.

Anonymous said...

I worked at AU until the end -- assuming the comebacks are, indeed, over.

Years earlier, as a student for one year in Big Sandy, I was working in the library over the summer. Came across a huge old hardback bible in storage -- you know, the old lectern-sized ones that I guess were prevalent in many stately old sanctuaries. In the back, many Psalms were rephrased in poetic, rhyming verse. As I began to read them, I realized I was reading the lyrics to our WCG hymns. I mean, there they were, word for word, line for line, exactly as we'd been singing them all those years. I showed them to John Robinson, who I'd worked for during the school year, and he was as fascinated by it as I was. This was a book from the late 1800s or early 1900s.

So it's clear that Dwight A. simply set those already written poems to musical verse. If people assumed the lyrics of our hymns were evidence of God's inspiration on the WCG, then they were misattributing things. If I recall correctly, our hymnals -- the later ones, anyway -- said only that the music was by Dwight Armstrong, not the lyrics. Not a big deal, really, but another brick in the wall, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Tom Delamater here. The above post was mine; I meant to include my name but pressed "publish" a tad hastily.

Anonymous said...

For most people at Embarrassing College, you could just randomly pick any event or topic, and whether HWA approved or disapproved was the be all and end all of the matter.

I don't know why we ever even bothered having student body entertainment, because HWA generally had at least one negative comment.

One year at a ministerial ball in Pasadena, some of the students put on skits. They were topical in nature and actually based on the prevailing "buzz" on campus. GTA was devoting many of the World Tomorrow broadcasts to what we now know as environmentalism. Of course, he saw the desecration of the planet as one of the signs of the end time. David Jon Hill was known at the time for introducing Cosby routines into his lectures and sermons. And, there were many sermons at feasts and such regarding the church's take on sex.

Skits which the students put together included a group of four who had affected the appearance of beatniks or hippies and sang a little song about pollution. Another group did a skit about Noah, styled after one of the Cosby routines. Finally, a skit based on the workings of a family was performed, with one of the coeds playing the part of a pre-pubescent daughter who would loudly ask, "Mother, what's sex?" at inappropriate times.

HWA didn't openly lambaste the student body for this, but we were told by many of the ministers during class time the following Monday that he was very angry about the entertainment.

During the era of the Electric Prunes, Arthur Lee and Love, Iron Butterfly, and the Velvet Underground, Joe Bauer was once criticized for leading the AC Orchestra in a rendition of Petula Clark's "Downtown". Apparently that was just too "worldly". Guess the ministers considered Percy Faith, Henry Mancini, and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to be about as extreme as you could go!

Does anybody recall what HWA might have thundered following GTA's appearance on Hee Haw?


Anonymous said...

"So it's clear that Dwight A. simply set those already written poems to musical verse."

Years ago I was reading some of John Milton's poems, and I discovered that one of the Dwight Armstrong hymns in the purple hymnal was just a shortened version of Milton's setting of a biblical psalm. So I wasn't surprised when the Tkaches revealed later on that most if not all of the lyrics of the Dwight Armstrong hymns were borrowed.

Anonymous said...

"I don't care for the 'Songs of Worship' Time-Life style like 'Shine Jesus Shine' which probably WCG sings now"

I can't stand 'em. Unfortunately they've permeated all of Christian culture in this country, even the Catholic Church.

"Shine Jesus Shine" with its string of mixed metaphors, "We bring the snackrifice of maize into the mouth of the bored," "Majesty" to the tune of the old Lawrence Welk Show farewell song . . . ack!! From talentless schlock in the guise of "praise and worship," deliver us, O Lord!

Douglas Becker said...

I'm appreciative of the exposition of the source of the lyrics, yet I still have the feeling that the music was also "borrowed" in many cases, probably from the little sect that wrote thousands of songs as mentioned by Robert Dick.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad GTA only had the one appearnce on Hee Haw, if I was him I would have invited Junior Samples
Minnie Pearl and Granpa Jones and Roy Clark to the Auditorium for a show.

Gavin said...

Douglas, there is some info on Dwight's sources here.

Anonymous said...

To Gavin and Douglas Becker,

I think I heard that some of the tunes came straight from the Geneva Psalter, which is why so many of the tunes seem familiar or stick in our heads--they've been around literally for hundreds of years.


Douglas Becker said...

Gavin, Phil?,

Thank you so much for the sources. I do seem to remember that the tunes mentioned by Robert Dick were from the Geneva Psalter, but I'm still not 100% certain.

My appreciation to you both. You can't know how much that has reduced my stress levels.


Anonymous said...

To Douglas Becker,

Respectfully, Anonymous is not Phil [F].


Douglas Becker said...

And the ? indicated some doubt, which does not at all diminish the gratitude.

Anonymous said...

To Douglas Becker,

You're welcome, even though you [?] me.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the poems I discovered in that Bible were Milton's verses, as described; I don't recall reading that, but I'm also surprised now at how disinterested I was in exploring it much further. I remember thinking at the time that it was interesting -- but that was about it. Maybe that was symptomatic of the mindset of being a student at AC. -- td

Anonymous said...

Jared Olar what is wrong with these words of..............

Shine Jesus Shine

1. Lord the light of Your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness shining
Jesus Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth You now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me


Shine Jesus shine
fill this land with the Father's glory
Blaze spirit blaze, set our hearts on fire
Flow river flow, flood the nations
with grace and mercy
Send forth Your word Lord and let there be light

2. Lord I come to Your awesome presence
From the shadows into Your radiance
By the blood I may enter Your brightness
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness
Shine on me, shine on me (REFRAIN)

3. As we gaze on Your kingly brightness
So our faces display Your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here may our lives tell Your story
Shine on me, shine on me (REFRAIN)

What is wrong with praising Jesus in song?

Dwight Armstrong left Jesus out of his songs. I have my own theory as to why.

"Of the 114 special songs by Dwight Armstrong appearing in the 1974 Hymnal, how many do you think contain the name Christ or Jesus? Do you think most of them, say, about 100? Surely at least half, say 57? Would you be surprised to learn that of all 114 songs, not one contains the name of our Savior."

Douglas Becker said...

"Of the 114 special songs by Dwight Armstrong appearing in the 1974 Hymnal, how many do you think contain the name Christ or Jesus? Do you think most of them, say, about 100? Surely at least half, say 57? Would you be surprised to learn that of all 114 songs, not one contains the name of our Savior."

This is 180 degrees from the modern Church of God Seventh Day in some areas where the local CoG7 has its own band and play quite a lot of music in its "Praise Worship" Services. The songs are modern and Evangelical. The words are projected on a large screen that mostly everyone can read. The songs praise Jesus quite a lot as Savior -- by name -- as the CoG7 views themselves as the Bride of Christ honoring her Husband.

And the music levels run from 82 to 92 decibels if anyone is interested.

The sermons are short but meaningful. Most of the time the Scriptures are also projected on a screen.

And, if you be interested, no we do not attend there, but a lot of disenfranchised UCG members who felt the keen lack of emotional and filial fulfillment certainly do.

Anonymous said...

Addition to previous post by Trudie

Let All the Nations Hail Him King

Go Ye Therefore Into All the World

Not Many Wisemen Now Are Called

are the exceptions of using the name of Jesus Christ

Anonymous said...

The following is from a letter sent by HWA to the WCG membership in mid-1984, when Dwight Armstrong was terminally ill...

"I recently visited my brother, Dwight, who composed all of the music in our Church hymnals except for three or four songs we felt worthy of being included. He has devoted the last 35 years of his life to composing the music of these hymns for us....

"I found him in the last stages of cancer in the bone structure, going through the marrow of the bones. He is a little discouraged, not realizing what a real success his life has been, and with the mortgage on his home still not paid off as he faces the end of his life. He is not expected to live much longer.... He will be 80, if he survives until September 15....

"We have had no experience or precedent to know how one with such musical talent should be compensated for his years of faithful labor, but because of IRS restrictions over us by the government, and the fact he is my brother, I feel he has never been properly rewarded for his efforts. However, if some of you brethren do feel you would like him to know how much his beautiful music has meant to your Christian life, and would care to just write him a few words of appreciation, I know that would brighten the few remaining days he probably has in his life."

So Dwight apparently did his work for little or no compensation and his brother Herbert, who at the time was receiving compensation in the neighborhood of $500k a year (and with that being in 1984!) couldnt come up with the money to pay off his brothers humble mortgage.

The statement about him not being able to do so because of IRS regs is a complete crock. There may have been gift tax , but it is not illegal as HWA implied.

Furthermore, rather than taking care of his own family, he places the burden on the church membership, implying that they send "an offering" to him for his unpaid mortgage. I did not list the mailing address that was also included in the letter for that purpose.

I guess the "generosity" and the "give way of life" only flowed one way in the WCG, from the bottom to the top.


Anonymous said...

To Trudie:

If you believe that Jesus was the Lord or 'Eternal' of the OT, then most of the Psalms were sung to him if you think about it.


Douglas Becker said...

I remember sitting high in the bleachers with my whole family when Herbert Armstrong came to Oregon to visit his brother Dwight for the very last time and was there for Sabbath Services.

Based on what Bill just said, it is a sad commentary of a man who did not take care of his family as being worse than an infidel.

It would not be surprising to find modern examples of the 21st Century in the Churches of God, since many seem to be following Herbert Armstrong's worst example.

Let us exceed the example as we have opportunity.

Anonymous said...

To Trudie:
If you believe that Jesus was the Lord or 'Eternal' of the OT, then most of the Psalms were sung to him if you think about it.


Yes, but some people don't believe that.

It should make us want to sing and praise Jesus our Lord and Saviour, even more.

To think that He came and died so we can have eternal life.

Pretty awesome isn't it?

Anonymous said...

To Trudy and Anon,

Gal 5:19-20 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

In the Greek, the Lord in 19 is Theos/Logos and in 20 He is again listed in addition to the Father as [God].

It also appears that psalms and odes or [spiritual songs] are all appropriate, sung to Jesus or the Father. An ode or [spiritual song] would imply [not out of the Bible, per se] "current" music, which might vary from culture to culture[?]


Douglas Becker said...

Hmmm. On second thought: If Dwight David Armstrong didn't write either the tunes or the words but plagiarized them all, is there any particular reason he should be paid for his work on the songbook?

And it is also good reason for the WCG to be a bit vague about rights to the hymnal as well, even though that particular obstacle was removed four years ago.

One view is that at least the thievery was consistent.

Anonymous said...

I moved to Pasadena in 1975 to pursue a second bachelor's degree and my wife obtained a part-time job in the Music Department. The ladies who worked in that department told her that when the purple hymnal was being prepared a few years earlier, Dwight Armstrong brought pieces of music to the department for them to write the words for. Thus, the words to some of the later songs by Dwight Armstrong were developed by the faculty and staff of the AC Pasadena Music Dept. in a very hectic period just before the hymnal was published. They pieced together words from the psalms using various translations of the Bible, trying to select psalms whose mood fit the music, especially psalms that had not been used in earlier songs. If anyone knows one of the members of the department during that era, perhaps they can obtain confirmation of this.

Also, several years ago on one of the forums someone claimed to have purchased an old Protestant hymnal in a used book store in Pasadena and discovered that it had been owned by Dwight Armstrong. He claimed that the music to a number of Dwight Armstrong's hymns had been taken directly or with minor changes from that hymnal. I don't remember the forum or any further details of this claim but I am fairly certain that the writer did not identify the hymnal so I have been somewhat skeptical of this claim, but I offer it for what it is worth.

Anonymous said...

"Of the 114 special songs by Dwight Armstrong appearing in the 1974 Hymnal, how many do you think contain the name Christ or Jesus? Do you think most of them, say, about 100? Surely at least half, say 57? Would you be surprised to learn that of all 114 songs, not one contains the name of our Savior."

This is 180 degrees from the modern Church of God Seventh Day in some areas where the local CoG7 has its own band and play quite a lot of music in its "Praise Worship" Services. The songs are modern and Evangelical. The words are projected on a large screen that mostly everyone can read. The songs praise Jesus quite a lot as Savior -- by name -- as the CoG7 views themselves as the Bride of Christ honoring her Husband.

Above is quoted from this thread.
I've heard Armstrongite cult apologists say there is precious little different between the ACOGs(Armstrongite Cogs) and the traditional COGs.

Apparently the differences are great, although the Armstrongites will engage in all kinds of dubious mental gymnastics to try and show otherwise.

Douglas Becker said...

Apparently the differences are great

The congregation is warm and non judgmental. People come dressed informally, although you can wear a suit if you wish. There is no pressure. The people are very caring. The minister is not the Sabbath Gestapo in the CoG7. There are a lot more young children and there are many younger families with the parents in their 20s and 30s. Quite a few people never attended church anywhere else before.

There are, amazingly enough, altar calls. Tithes and offerings, though not demanded are collected as part of the praise service.

Instead of a duty or burden, the Sabbath is considered a gift wherein everyone can leave the cares of the past week behind and concentrate on praising Jesus and worshiping God the Father. There is much more emotional content to the extent that the xcgs seem sterile by comparison.

There is even an optional Fall Festival kept at the traditional time.

The CoG7 is community based and the ministers of the CoG7 have a rapport with the Sunday keeping Protestant ministers and talk with them frequently. The CoG7 ministers have actual training in credentialed prominent Bible Colleges. One minister did his thesis on William Miller and has family ties to Dugger and Dodd. Some have taken extensive training in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

While it may seem odd, with the modern evangelical music, the CoG7 believes in keeping the Commandments, clean and unclean meats but consider themselves New Covenant, devoid of legalism. The idea is to love God and keep the Commandments because they are a gift and because they want to show love to Jesus, not out of duty.

The Bible Advocate is one of the most respected religious publications with around 150 years of history. Let us see any other xcg last that long and have a stable congregation of 10,000 strong a century from now.

Indeed, the CoG7 from which Herbert Armstrong rebelled because they didn't accept British Israelism from him, is quite a world apart from the xcgs, musically and otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Ross Jutsum: "It Won't Be Long Now".

Me: "It Will Be Long Then".

Anonymous said...


With all due respect I have read elsewhere comments that Jesus was copied from myth and Mithra fables of the sun god.

Personally my belief is that the Almighty Creator God came first and all else are imitations of His plan and purpose to try and deceive mankind and turn them from God.

It appears the deception has succeeded.

Anonymous said...

To Trudie and Dennis:

Mal 4:2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

and 4:3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do [this], saith the LORD of hosts.

When the Sun of righteousness comes is explained in
Rev 21:23-25 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

Jesus will shine then.


Anonymous said...

To Dennis:

You said: "Groups don't grow well in any kind of grace and knowledge in my personal expereince. They grow in the kind of grace enforced by law and the kind of knowledge that is acceptable to the group. Otherwise the individual is subject to being marginalized for seeking that which the group won't examine and can't afford to adopt as a belief because it brings up the idea of "can't you make up your mind what the truth is?" That can be fatal to a group's credibility. Individuals can change. Groups can try,"

The top-down, centralized governmental structure of the derivative splinters of the former Radio Church of God effectively stymied personal evangelism and missionary activity and killed, or will kill the organization. These fellowships have, within their institutional patterns, the seeds of their own demise—as do fellowships like the Seventh Day Adventists. For within a few generations, few are left who have cleansed their hearts by faith. The organization is spiritually dead. And today, such an organization is the Seventh-Day Baptists, which publicly acknowledges that the fellowship grows by familial association (i.e., the fellowship’s growth comes from baptizing their own children).

The fellowship that will grow is the one which sends forth second generation disciples as missionaries for Christ Jesus, with each missionary teaching first generation converts to cleanse their hearts by faith. It does no good, say, for a Seventh-Day Baptist household to send forth missionaries who do not teach that the Sabbath is to be kept (i.e., to send their young people out as missionaries with 8th-day Baptists). Likewise, it will do no good for a United Church of God household to send forth missionaries who do not teach that all of the Sabbaths of God are to be kept.

But what, say, the Seventh-Day Baptist household, or the United Church of God household will discover in sending forth its young people is that in teaching Christ to Gentile converts, the young person will grow in grace and knowledge, and in experience in rightly dividing the Word of God. The young person will journey beyond where the household is presently theologically located to the horror of the household. This young person will journey closer to that heavenly city of Jerusalem where the temple of God is presently under construction. Therefore, perhaps intuitively recognizing that households such as the Seventh-Day Baptists or United Church of God will fail if their young people actually sell all they have and follow Christ Jesus, these organization place prohibitively restrictive barriers in front of their young people. These barriers are primarily intended to protect the organization—and in protecting the organization, the fellowship prevents its second [next] generation from cleaning hearts by faith, thereby assuring that the organization will disappear into the flotsam of history as spindrift along the lips of the spiritual River Jordan.


Douglas Becker said...

All four of these stars are arranged three signs apart, in the four corners of the heavens - the four fixed signs of the zodiac. These are the four creatures which combine to form scriptural cherubim.

So that's it!

I always wondered why Herbert Armstrong bought that silver and gold stand with the signs of the Zodiac on it!

Anonymous said...

Ah, but the Armstrongites have this all covered, Dennis. They believe in a literal creation involving the "real" people, Adam and Eve. They believe that the "truth" was delivered and known by humans thousands of years prior to Moses, and that the pagans who named the heavenly bodies and constellations still had elements of truth.

They would never consider the Baha'i teaching that Adam was the first "god conscious" man, others having evolved as evidenced by the fossil record. And, they'd never believe that Noah's flood was a large scale local event, isolated to Mesopotamia, with aboriginal peoples from evolution or other creations not having been affected by the flood. Without a doubt, they'd never believe that the story of Noah was plagiarized from the Sumerians, who chronicled a flood a thousand or more years prior to Noah.

But, then, this is the sort of thing which happens to people when they stick to literalism in their interpretation of one book, unaware of history, allegory, or prevailing philosophies in the surrounding cultures which could have crept into that book.


Anonymous said...

Psalm 19 (New Living Translation)

1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,and their words to all the world.

I believe the Creator God was the architect of this universe with a well thought out blueprint and His message was put in that cosmic expanse for all to see, but few heed.

He gives us free will to think, reason and choose the belief in which we feel is the most logical.
(He does not beat us into submission, He gives us freedom of thought )

Since none of us were there to witness the beginning of the creation of this earth and
mankind’s involvement throughout the ages... it is a matter of faith either way in what we choose to believe.

I think it is more logical to believe in the inventor Creator, than what transpired after in
the form of pagan folk lore..

But I don't have any pressing need to engage in convincing anyone either. Just dealing with myself is a full time job.
I'm still a work in progress and keeping the door open to learn as much as I can.


Bahá’í faith has only been around since mid-nineteenth century.

The Baha`u`lla`h is another who claims to be a divine messenger of truth.

Why should one believe him any more than Herbert W?

There are always going to be divine messengers ready to reveal
" new truth "

We can pick and choose among many.
Or we can settle on ONE. :)

jorgheinz said...

Should the Bible Hymnal be called " Lewny Tewns" ( the original is copyright)?

Some of those hymns could do with a rename.

"Glorious Things of Thee Are Smoken."

"All People That On Earth Do Smell".

"By the Whoreters of Babbleon".

Some of those lyrics could be described as Flotsam and Jutsum.

Etc etc


Anonymous said...


I am not Baha'i, and I am no longer an Armstrongite. From time to time, for the purpose of discussion, I will introduce a novel bit of thinking from various eclectic sources. What impressed me in this case was that the Baha'i, while still believing in a literal creation, at least made an effort to acknowledge archaeological and fossil records. Biblical inerrantists, since they single source all of their information, simply reject Neanderthal fossils, ancient cave writings, and many other curiosities. As our friend, the King of Siam would say, "That is most unscientific!"


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


From what I've read the Baha'i faith has many good teachings. And maybe in 150 years someone may say the same about Armstrong teachings, not knowing or having lived it, as many of us have.

You said
"What impressed me in this case was that the Baha'i, while still believing in a literal creation, at least made an effort to acknowledge archaeological and fossil records. Biblical inerrantists, since they single source all of their information, simply reject Neanderthal fossils, ancient cave writings, and many other curiosities."

The earth reveals it's history.

To reject what is obvious is not wise.

God speaks to us in the heavens and in the layers of this earth if one would only open their eyes and not overlook some of the scripture that would help identify what has transpired over eons.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the COGmeisters won't interpret this as being enlightening! They'll use us as examples in their sermons of what happens when people leave "God's" church and lose the Holy Spirit. In other words, we end up reaffirming their faith!

Our "enlightenment", to them, is a "reprobate" mind.


Anonymous said...

"Jared Olar what is wrong with these words of.............. Shine Jesus Shine"

As I said, they're a string of changing metaphors. The lyrics display a decided lack of talent in musical composition. But hey, it's got a great beat and you can dance to it, Dick! I give it a 47!

That being said, I doubt "Shine Jesus Shine" provides any evidence that the Christian God is a solar deity, and finding hidden astrological meanings in Malachi's prophecy of the Sun of Righteousness rising with healing in the folds of His garments (or finding them in any other biblical prophecy for that matter) seems to me to be rather like playing your records backwards trying to find satanic messages. Anyway, I had no idea talking about Dwight Armstrong hymns could so quickly veer so far afield.

Douglas Becker said...

Say -- and this seems to be on topic -- has anyone tried playing the Dwight Armstrong hymns [not truly his, but for sake of simplicity] backwards to see if they contain... messages? Something from the Young Ambassadors or Pasadena Feast Choir which remotely suggests something comprehensible, but not having a meaning related to the song?

Anonymous said...

"but for sake of simplicity] backwards to see if they contain... messages? Something from the Young Ambassadors or Pasadena Feast Choir which remotely suggests something comprehensible, but not having a meaning related to the song?"

I did that once on the campus station. The powers that be weren't amused.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, Deborah Armstrong here (Dwight Armstrong's daughter).

Wow... it is really amazing to see how many people remember my father's music.

To end speculation on where they originated from: No, my father did not make up the words. He did compose the music, and the muisc only.

The words came from psaltered versions of the psalms as some have posted. Since these were Old Testiment, they did not include verses about Jesus. I think also that Herbert wanted it that way. In any case, my mother, Karen Armstrong, put a lot of work into helping to arrange the hymns, lyrics to music and in some cases certain words were changed so that the music flowed better.

Someone commented that my father was not compensated for his work. This is not true. Herbert did pay my father a salary. True, the mortgage on our home was not paid off when he died, but that is how it is for most of us these days, isn't it?? I have no complaints or bitterness about the way my father was compensated. We were not "rich" but we were not poor either. And yes, my father paid tithes faithfully until his death and did attend church services when health allowed.

He also wrote dozens of hymns that were never published. Herbert was planning to include them in a new hymnal in the 80's, but he died before the hymnal came out. I believe that the editorial staff simply chose not to include my father's new hymns, which is a shame, since he wrote many of them while he was dying of cancer.

Yes, I admit some of his music was very "minor" in it's flavor. I think it's a stretch to call them "dirges" though... especially considering some of the hymns sung in other churches!! And at least they are not the overly cheerful "Jesus" music sung in some churches either or on Christian "Rock" stations! Gah - I really don't care much for "Christian" music! *shudder*

Interestingly, when I traveled to Jerusalem and I heard Jews singing hymns on the Sabbath, by the wall of the temple - I was amazed at how much the music reminded me of my Father's. Maybe some of his own Hebrew background came out in the music? He certainly did love minor keys.

In any case, my father was a quiet, humble person - almost the opposite personality of his brother Herbert, but he did take a lot of pride in his music. He kept to himself and wanted nothing to do with church "politics."

And his middle name was not "David" as someone posted - it was "Leslie" - my middle name too!