Week 3: The Gaithers



He Touched Me

Text and Tune: Bill Gaither (1936– ), 1963

  1. Given that this was the Gaithers’ first big hit, what qualities do you see (in both text and tune) that account for its popularity? What is the central message?
    • The text is general without being generic - relatable by almost anyone and captures the core of the Christian story
    • The melody is shaped around the phrase “he touched me”, and helps cement it as a memorable musical catch
    • The message is two-part, both what Jesus did for us (“made me whole”) and how we respond to it (“never cease to praise Him”)

The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference

Text and Tune: Bill Gaither (1936– ), Gloria Gaither (1942– ), 1970

  1. This hymn shares a similar theme with “He Touched Me” but approached in a different way. What are the main differences you see between the two? Which do you find more effective?

    • “The Old Rugged Cross” uses more of a story-telling approach with deeper imagery
    • “He Touched Me” almost oversimplifies the issue and says nothing about “the Giver of Life [moving] inside”; it’s a process, not a magic wand
    • They both share the concept of Jesus not just transforming, but fulfilling our lives (see “shell of a man” and “made me whole”)
    • They both show praise as the appropriate response to God’s work in our lives
  2. The title and chorus directly reference the classic gospel hymn “The Old Rugged Cross” from the early 1900s. What connections between the two songs do you notice?

    • Both rely on highly visual imagery
      • Gaither: metaphors of an empty room, outstretched nail-marked hand
      • Bennard: hill far away, blood-stained cross
    • Both focus on strong contrasts
      • Gaither: desperation, anger, sadness vs love, warmth, laughter
      • Bennard: shame and suffering vs beauty and glory

Hear My Song, Lord

Text and Tune: Bill Gaither (1936– ), Gloria Gaither (1942– ), 1989

  1. In what ways do you see a modern “praise chorus” influnce on this song? At the same time, are there other features that make it still seem “Gaither-like”?
    • Unlike the others, the tune is not typical Southern gospel
      • Continuous triplet feel throughout
      • Lack of secondary dominant harmonies and chromatic motion
    • The scriptural influence is still easy to see:
      • Text reads very much like a Psalm, similarities to Psalm 23 (“I will not fear … every need I have, you satisfy”)
      • Quotes about “living water” (John 4:10) and “bread of life” (John 6:35)
      • Also music: immediately after the first communion (bread and wine), Jesus and the disciples sing together (see Matthew 26:26-30)
    • An emphasis on praise as a response to God (“you fill me with praise”, “I’ll praise him forever…”, “I will never cease to praise him”)