When God Dips His Pen (Artful Devotion)

Meglic, Vladimir_Evangelist
Vladimir Meglić (Croatian, 1955–), Evangelist, 2006. Acrylic on canvas, 63 × 80 cm.

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

—Romans 5:5b


SONG: “When God Dips His Pen of Love in My Heart” by Cleavant Derricks, 1945

The Rev. Cleavant Derricks (1909–1977) was a gospel songwriter who pastored and directed the choir of a number of black Baptist churches throughout the South. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1984. His song “When God Dips His Pen of Love in My Heart” (sometimes shortened to “When God Dips His Love in My Heart”) was first recorded by the Blackwood Brothers Quartet in 1946. Hank Williams followed that up with his own recording in December 1950—though it wasn’t released until 1985.

The Million Dollar Quartet (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash) also covered the song during their famous impromptu jam session of 1956, though only in excerpt: they sing it as a lead-in to another Derricks song, “Just a Little Talk with Jesus.” (Listen to the full track here.)

For a great gospel-style rendition, here’s a 1984 recording by Albertina Walker and the Christ Universal Temple Ensemble:

However, I know the song best from its country-bluegrass rendition by the Cox Family, featuring Alison Krauss, which appears on the 1993 album Everybody’s Reaching Out for Someone:

This post belongs to the weekly series Artful Devotion. If you can’t view the music player in your email or RSS reader, try opening the post in your browser.

To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for Proper 6, cycle A, click here.

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