(photograph of Vera Holding)
GO TELL THE STORY
“…Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mk. 5:19)
INTRO.: A hymn which exhorts us to tell others how the Lord has done great things and has compassion is “Go Tell the Story.” The text was written and the tune was composed both by Vera Zumwalt Holding, who was born on December 30, 1894, at San Saba in San Saba County, Texas, the youngest of six children of William A. Zumwalt (1862–1923) and Sarah Ethel [Faver] Zumwalt (1861–1946). Her family were all members of the church of Christ. Baptized into Christ at the age of twelve, she was educated in Texas and Oklahoma, taking graduate studies at the American Conservatory in Chicago, IL, to prepare herself for a career as a concert singer. Then along came a young newspaper man, Chester A. Holding (1894–1963), whom she married about 1913, probably in Oklahoma. He changed her life, and she instead became a newspaper woman, editor, and poet. The couple adopted two children, daughter Carol J. and son Robert L. After living a while in Musselshell County, Montana, the family moved to Tipton and then to Norman, both in Oklahoma.
A product of the famed Stanley Vestal-Foster Harris School of Writing, Vera authored over 200 short stories, five volumes of verse, 136 True Western historical articles, a book of devotions, three novels for young adults, and many other features. In 1960, she won the Miriam Whitney White Award for the poem contributing the most to Americana with “Symbol.” Another of her poems, “Petition,” was made into plaques and became a project of the Gold Star Mothers of America. Many of her poems were set to music. She was a regular contributor to the Oklahoma Woman, had a regular monthly book review of Western history in True Frontier, and often served as a guest lecturer for religious and civic organizations. A very active member of the Oklahoma Federation of Writers, she was chosen “Sweetheart of Oklahoma Writers” because of her continuing help to young writers. In 1974, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers’ Hall of Fame.
Listed in “Who’s Who of Women in Communication” and “Who’s Who of American Women,” Vera was a member of the corps of Oklahoma Press Women, often conducting workshops at colleges and universities all over the nation. For thirteen years, she was on the staff of the famed Professional Writers Short Course at Oklahoma University. A past President of the Poetry Society of Oklahoma and past State President of the Oklahoma League of Pen Women, she was chosen Oklahoma Pen Woman of the Year in 1976. Also she was a member of the Women’s Posse of Western Writers. In September of 1978, she won a week’s study at the Guidepost’s workshop in New York, being chosen one of fifteen out of more than 4,000 screened. She won the trip for an article, “Yes, I Know God Answers Prayers.” Her hymn ”Go Tell the Story“ was copyrighted in 1979. In 1980, Gene C. Finley included it in his collection Our Garden of Song. Vera Holding died on September 1, 1984, at 89 years of age in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, OK, and was buried at Tipton Cemetery in Tipton, Tillman County, OK.
”Go Tell the Story“ emphasizes the importance of telling the story of Jesus to others.
I. Stanza 1 indicates the motive for telling the story
When a troubled world in darkness
Gropes for help to find the light,
When sore, stumbling feet need guidance
Through a long and weary night,
May compassion walk beside you
As you lend a helping hand;
May the simple words of Jesus
Help the lost to understand.
- The world is troubled by the darkness of sin: Jn. 3:19
- Those who have found the light should have compassion on those in sin: Jude v. 22-23
- It should be our aim to point them to the simple words of Jesus which are spirit and life: Jn. 6:63
II. Stanza 2 explains the means for telling the story
Follow Jesus, He can help you,
He can lift the weary load;
He can guide you through the darkness
To a wider, brighter road.
Tell the story, sweetest story,
How the blessed Savior came,
How He left His home in heaven
To redeem the world from sin.
- We must tell people to follow Jesus: Matt. 16:24
- He will lead them to the brighter road that leads to life: Matt. 7:13-14
- He can do this because He came to redeem the world from sin: Gal. 4:4-5
III. Stanza 3 describes the reward for telling the story
Then when all of life is over,
And you’ve followed His command,
“Go and tell the wondrous story,
Every nation, every land,”
You will hear the loved voice saying,
“Child, well done, come home today,”
And you’ll go to him in glory
Where all tears are washed away.
- Someday all of life will be over when the Lord returns: 2 Pet. 3:10
- Then those who have faithfully followed His commands will hear Him say, “Well done, enter in”: Matt. 25:21
- And they will be rewarded by going where all tears are washed away: Rev. 21:1-4
CONCL.: God has done so much for us, not only providing for all our physical needs but, since we’ve all sinned and thus deserve eternal punishment in hell, offering us forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life in heaven through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. He has revealed His plan for the salvation of mankind in the gospel. And His plan includes the imperative that those who have already heard and obeyed His word to be redeemed should then seek out others to whom they can “Go Tell the Story.”