"LOVE ONE ANOTHER"
"…Love one another…" (Jn. 13.33-34)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to love one another as Jesus commanded is "Love One Another," often called "Angry Words, O Let Them Never" (#394 in Hymns for Worship Revised, and #112 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text is attributed to D. K. P., whose identity is unknown. I was looking through an old school songbook, American School Songs which was published by Hope Publishing Co. in 1904 and edited by J. H. Kurzenknabe, which has the complete poem (#343) from which this hymn is taken, set to a different tune with no name for either author or composer.
1. "Angry words are lightly spoken In a rash and thoughtless hour;
Brightest links of life are broken By their fell, insidious power."
2. "Hearts inspired by warmest feeling, Ne’er before by anger stirred,
Oft are rent past human feeling By a single angry word."
3. "Poison drops of care and sorrow, Bitter poison drops are they,
Weaving for the coming morrow Saddest memories of today."
4. "Angry words! oh, let them never From the tongue unguarded slip;
May the heart’s best impulse ever Check them ere they pass the lip."
5. "Love is much too pure and holy, Friendship is too sacred far,
For a moment’s reckless folly, Thus to desolate and mar."
6. "Angry words are lightly spoken, Bitterest thoughts are rashly stirred;
Brightest links of life are broken By a single angry word."
The tune was composed by Horatio Richmond Palmer (1834-1907). He is best-known for his song, "Yield Not To Temptation." Sometimes Palmer is identified as the author too. The song "Angry Words" first appeared in the Sunday School Teacher of 1867. Originally the stanzas were written for soprano and alto duet, and the arrangement for full four-part harmony was made by William Washington Slater, who was born in Logan County, AR, on Feb. 2, 1885, the son of David and Melvina Slater, and grew up knowing the poverty and hardships of farm life in the hill country. When Will was about five years old, the family moved to the vicinity of Sallisaw in eastern Oklahoma, where Mr. Slater died.
The responsibility for the support of his widowed mother and eleven siblings fell on Will, the oldest son. Coupled with the fact that educational opportunities were limited, this made it impossible for him to have much schooling. He had to leave school at age thirteen, having attended for only about six years and possibly making it to the sixth grade. David Slater had been a Baptist. However, when Will was sixteen he was invited by a neighbor to attend a gospel meeting in which W. D. Cecil did the preaching. Along with his mother, he obeyed the gospel at this time. In 1910 he married Miss Nettie Mae Weatherington, and they had four children. In 1915 Will began preaching at a schoolhouse named Shiloh in eastern Oklahoma. His work as a gospel preacher took him into many states, and for several years he lived in Ft. Worth, TX. However, it is as a hymnwriter that he is most remembered. As early as 1912 he began writing hymns, one of his earliest being "There’s A Home For The Soul," and in 1913 studied music at the Eureka Normal.
Some of Slater’s best-known melodies were composed for "Walking Alone At Eve," with words by Thomas Sweatmon, and the communion hymn "In Remembrance," with words by Rue Porter. Slater’s first full songbook, Spiritual Melodies, was compiled in 1926. His arrangement of "Angry Words" was made in 1944. His last book was Gospel Service Hymnal in 1959. Many of his books were extremely popular among churches of Christ especially in the south and west. In August of 1959, he taught a singing school one week in rural Arkansas, and then the following week preached in a gospel meeting at a small place nearby called Crystal Springs. On Saturday evening, Aug. 22, he returned to the house where he was staying after speaking in the service. While preparing for bed he became ill, told his hosts that he needed a doctor, and passed away while being taken to the hospital at Hot Springs. His body was later laid to rest in Ft. Worth.
Among songbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Angry Words" appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
This song reminds us of the need to show love in speech and actions toward others.
I. Stanza 1 says that if we love one another, angry words will never slip from our tongues.
"Angry words! O let them never From the tongue unbridled slip;
May the heart’s best impulse ever Check them ere they soil the lip."
A. We need to be constantly guarding what we let slip from our tongues because "no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison": James 3:8
B. Rather, we should make sure that our heart’s best impulse checks our words because "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks": Matthew 12:34
C. Like the Psalmist, we should always be asking God, to set a guard over our mouth and keep watch over the door of our lips: Psalm 141:3-4
II. Stanza 2 says that if we love one another, folly will not mar our friendships
"Love is much too pure and holy, Friendship is too sacred far,
For a moment’s reckless folly Thus to desolate and mar."
A. Love is something that should characterize our relationship with other people: 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
B. Out of this love grow friendships that should be important to each of us: Proverbs 17:17, 18:24
C. Therefore, we should be very careful not to allow in a moment’s reckless folly the kind of communication out of our mouth that will tear down and destroy those relationships rather than building them up: Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 4:6
III. Stanza 3 says that if we love one another, we will refrain from anger and bitterness
"Angry words are lightly spoken, Bitterest thoughts are rashly stirred,
Brightest links of life are broken By a single angry word."
A. Since angry words are sometimes spoken very lightly, we should remember that "in the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise": Proverbs 10:19-21
B. To do this, it is also important to make sure that we guard our hearts against bitter thoughts that often find expression in our words: Ephesians 4:31-32
C. And we must keep in mind that brightest links of life can be broken by a using the wrong words: Proverbs 16:27-28
CONCL.: The chorus goes on to point out that in our thoughts, words, and
actions toward each other, we should:
"’Love one another,’ thus saith the Savior; Children, obey the Father’s blest command;
‘Love one another,’ thus saith the Savior; Children, obey His blest command."
Songs of Faith and Praise has a strange alteration in which the final stanza has been replaced with another by Betty Bender, I guess to give it a more "positive" spin:
"Let our words be sweetly spoken, Let kind thoughts be greatly stirred;
Show our love to one another with abundance of kind words."
All of our major books have the original two part arrangement for the stanzas. The only other major book, besides Sacred Selections and Hymns for Worship, to have the Slater arrangement is Praise for the Lord. In whatever arrangement, this song has been very useful through the years to teach us that when we are tempted to speak in bitterness or malice, we should be determined that in our speech we shall show that we "Love One Another."