This series is dedicated to Ruthie Allen Crowder, who should have been one of the singers on these albums, had she not gone on ahead of us at an untimely age.

As we wind up the Gospel Favorites Series, a few words about each of the singers who helped out, and a few more words about the players.

The core group of singers stem from the Hardgrave family, my mom, Uncle John, Charles, David, Donna,Joe Dan and me:

Growing up on the family ranch out in Terrell County, Texas, with no phone, no TV and limited radio, my mom and her brothers Lee, Jack, Allen and John would often break out the hymn books and sing simply for entertainment, each taking different parts as they still do today. One of the boys would sing the lead part, with the others singing tenor and bass, with Mama singing alto. We perpetuate the practice at our family reunions, but with many more singers!

Mary Bess Harkins, Mama, went off to Abilene Christian where she was a member of the chorus. She still goes back most years to college reunions where the alums have their own recordings. After years as a first grade teacher, she retired and now lives with my dad Claude Harkins on their place near Bastrop, Texas. And of course, she’s always there at the Bastrop Church singing alto.

John Hardgrave also went to ACC (now ACU), spent most of his life as a rancher, but now is retired in Red Oak, Texas with Peggy. He’s been missing the reunions the last couple of years because he’s been traveling to Romania working with the orphans there. He leads the song service on occasion at the Ovilla Church; that’s him singing lead on “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”.

Charles Hardgrave is a sort of ringer in the crowd; he too went to ACU and became a high school band teacher, learning how to play all kinds of instruments, and can always be counted on to have the right note. He’s a banker these days, but is still quite the musician and singer and leads the song service at the Goldthwaite Church. He, Donna and Joe Dan are children of Allen and Jo Nell, who recently passed.

Our cousin David Hardgrave also grew up on the ranch, but became a mechanical engineer, designing all kinds of oil field gadgets. He got “early retired” after a merger and now is pursuing his inventing and entrepreneurial ideas in Carrolton, Texas with wife Kay.

Donna Hardgrave Thomas, also became a teacher, but now is having more fun raising turkeys with her husband Ken in Northwest Arkansas.

Their younger brother, Joe Dan Hardgrave, works in wife Julie’s family engraving business in Dallas. He’s quite a fisherman and chef.

Via the Hardgrave-Allen intermarriage (my granddad Earl Wylie Hardgrave and grandmother Nellie Allen) my mom’s cousin Jeannette Scruggs Lipford (her mother was my grandmother’s sister) and her husband joined us. Jeannette is still working at ACU, putting on her theatrical musicals, while Harold Lipford has retired from his days as a development director there. They’re also both ringers, Jeannette having worked as a teaching musician and vocalist her whole adult life, and Harold, who was always a weekly song service leader when I was growing up. Their daughter Susan Lipford, no mean singer herself, also joined us.

Susan Caldwell Harkins, married to me since 1994, grew up at Oak Cliff Presbyterian, and was well known at church as the little girl who kept singing new hymns week after week long after the contest was over. They finally gave her a prize after she had come for weeks with another newly memorized hymn. She went to UNT, graduating with a History degree, but now makes a living as a computer process consultant. She also published our website, played the first piano tracks for the songs as we put them together; she filled in as soprano, but really she’s an alto.

Sherry Lesikar, a lady friend from my early days in Dallas, was perhaps the single biggest factor in me going back to church, which in turn made me realize how much I missed singing these old songs, without whom this whole series might not have happened. She’s a computer person too, with a CS degree from Mississippi.

Beverly Carothers, a friend met via the Dallas Songwriters’ group, happened to also be a friend of cousin Charles from their days in Goldthwaite, Texas. She was on the first song we did for the country album, Snapshot, “Blessed Assurance,” and is a very talented musician and vocalist herself.

Jamie Shipman Kassab was vocalist at the old Mesquite Opry when I first met her; now she’s retired from her day job as a music teacher and is pursuing her music as vocalist with Double Portion.

Algie Clark is an amazing older gentleman who we know from Skillman Church of Christ in Dallas. He’s 89 this year, and still can hit those notes right on pitch.

Art Greenhaw, now a member of the Light Crust Doughboys, was also on the Mesquite Opry when I first met him; he helped me produce my first album, and has been good enough to sing (he’s the REAL bass singer you hear) as well as play the keyboards; that’s him doing the organ and other effects on the synthesizer. Art always has lots of new projects going on, most recently with James Blackwood and with the Jordanaires.

Tim Cooper, whose studio has been my production partner these last few years, has been the guitar and bass player you hear on the accompanied versions of the tapes. He also doubles as “Leroy Cooper” when we lay down the drum machine track that helped keep us on the beat. Then last in the process, he’sthe guy that mixes it all together, producing the master CDs.

Many thanks to one and all. Without your patient help we might never have finished these albums.

Thanks too to Sara Hickman, who through her own self produced example, inspired me to go on and self publish these albums.

Again, we hope this effort is seen as respectful and reverent of the great gospel music tradition it represents, and perhaps it will help some person find the Lord. These songs have helped me, and I thank God for the opportunity to share them with you.

Ernie Wylie Harkins, April 16, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Adama Music. All rights reserved.

This list was compiled by Ernie Wylie Harkins (we provide the traditional title and the familiar or first line )

“Lord We Come Before Thee Now” by William Hammond, 1745, and music by Henri A. Malan, 1823, arranged by Lowell Mason 1841.

“Are You Washed in the Blood?” by E. A. Hoffman, 1878.

“More Holiness Give Me” by P. Bliss, 1873.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Joseph M. Scriven, 1855, and music by Charles Converse, 1868.

“He Leadeth Me” by J.H. Gilmore, 1862, and music by William Bradbury, 1864.

“This is my Father’s World” by Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901, and music by Franklin L. Sheppard, 1915.

“The Church’s One Foundation” by Samuel J. Stone, 1886, and music by Samuel S. Wesley, 1864.

“We Gather Together” by Adrianus Valerius, 1626, and music by Edward Kremser, 1877.

“Christ for the World We Sing” by Samuel Wolcott, 1869, and music by Felice De Giardini, 1769.

“Who at the Door is Standing?” by Mrs. M.B.C. Slade, and music by A.B. Everett.

“Rescue the Perishing” by Fanny Crosby, 1869, and music by W.H. Doane, 1869.

“Do All in the Name of the Lord” by Austin Taylor, and music by William B. Bradbury, 1854.

“Beneath the Cross of Jesus” by Elizabeth Clephane, 1872, and music by Frederick C. Maker, 1881.

“The Lord’s My Shepherd” from the Scottish Psalter, 1650, and music by John Campbell, 1854.

“Come to the Feast” by Charlotte Homer, and music by W.A Ogden.

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