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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

BONUS: Behind Great Carols: "I Wonder as I Wander"

Annie Morgan grew up in the Great Depression in the Appalachian region.  Her father was a preacher and her mother died when she was a girl.  After her mother’s death, Annie and her father were in the small town of MurphyNorth Carolina, where her father was preaching.  As part of the services, Annie got up and sang the haunting song, “I Wonder as I Wander.”  

John Jacob Niles, a composer, was in the audience that day and he loved the song Annie sang, which he had never heard before.  He paid her twenty-five cents to sing the song to him as he wrote down the words and the melody. Mr. Niles took the first three lines and the tune from Annie and wrote the rest of the song himself.  It is one of the most beautiful and haunting songs to ever come out of the Appalachian mountain regions of North Carolina.  

The song is a contemplation of some of the deep mysteries of Christmas—the fact that Jesus was born to die, that He was the king and yet a poor and humble baby.  He humbled himself for us—for “poor, ornery people like you and like I.”


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