This week in my series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth, I’ve chosen to return to the work of Bill Gaither. “Something Beautiful” was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither in 1971, and has been recorded numerous times since by them (including the Gaither Trio and Gaither Vocal Band) and by several other artists as well. Whether one considers it a “hymn,” or more strictly a chorus or popular music, it forms a part of the musical landscape of my youth as it relates to faith in the context of a conservative little church in a small town.
The message of the song offers some comfort, with God understanding even our confusion, and taking that together with the mess we can make of our lives and turning it into “something beautiful.” This is of course part of the gospel message as we know it (that is, with individualistic overtones) and provides a measure of encouragement to those who feel they have failed at points in their lives. Looked at another way, the song reminds us not to place undue confidence in our own effort or in any perceived ability to single-handedly outwit the impact of circumstance or the external trials of life which can quickly bring us to ruin.
Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But he made something beautiful of my life
If there ever were dreams
That were lofty and noble
They were my dreams at the start
And hope for life’s best were the hopes
That I harbor down deep in my heart
But my dreams turned to ashes
And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss
So I wrapped it all in the rags of life
And laid it at the cross.