Life lessons: Song links new country music and early Methodism
What does country music star Tim McGraw have in common with the editor of a 19th century Methodist magazine?
They both like to convey simple, heartfelt instructions through their work.
The Primitive Methodist Magazine (first edited by Hugh Bourne), was a monthly magazine of the Primitive Methodist Church in Britain, beginning in 1820 and spanning for more than a century. One of the more famous editors was H.B. Kendall, the writer of three histories of Primitive Methodism, a major movement in English Methodism from about 1810 until the Methodist Union in 1932.
James R. Parkinson, the editor of The Primitive Methodist Magazine for 1869, wrote an article titled “Devout Contemplations” on the life and words of Jesus Christ as found in the Bible.
He wrote that readers should draw inspiration from the actions of Jesus, especially when he washed the feet of his disciples before the Last Supper.
“This act,” writes Parkinson, “should teach Christians to be… humble and kind to each other, not to disdain the meanest work if we can thereby benefit each other.”
This same sentiment is found in McGraw’s latest single “Humble and Kind,” written by Nashville songwriter Lori McKenna.
McGraw describes the song as both advice to one’s children and a source for personal inspiration.
"It's certainly a letter to your kids in a lot of ways,” the singer said in an online interview. “But it's also something that I think about from hearing the song and recording the song. It's something you always you work on - humility, kindness, patience,” he said.
McGraw recorded the song after one daughter went off to college, another was getting ready to graduate, and a third was just entering high school.
In an online interview with Taste of Country, he said the song's powerful lyrics made it difficult for him to get through the entire song. "We spent 30 minutes on it and I cried through every take. I would try to get myself together and I'd get half-way through it and I would just start blubbering every time I would try to sing a line."
“Having daughters who are growing up and going out into the world, this song really speaks to me. I certainly think in this day and age in the world that we live in everybody can be so cynical and so snarky and a little bit mean, so I think that this song needs to be heard,” said McGraw.
As a parent who has seen three children leave home for college, I certainly understand the emotions McGraw must have felt when recording these lyrics:
Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don't steal, don't cheat, and don't lie
I know you got mountains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When those dreams you're dreamin' come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind.
Response to this song has been very favorable. Oprah Winfrey liked the song so much that she contributed images from her network’s groundbreaking series “BELIEF” to the making of the video. As McGraw sings the song’s powerful lyrics, we see people of all ages, genders, races and nationalities flash across the screen, solidifying the song’s universal themes.
Millions of viewers on Facebook have watched the video. More than 427,600 accounts, including the Nebraska United Methodist Foundation, Verdigris United Methodist Church in Claremore, Oklahoma and Salem United Methodist Church in Denver, North Carolina, shared the video with their followers.
Take a moment to watch the video. Listen to the lyrics, let the images of the people of the world wash over you, and pray to our Father for guidance on how to live more like his Son.
I suspect that in response, you may hear the words “always stay humble and kind.”
I know I did.