Mar 24, 2014

God's Not Dead music

God's Not Dead, the latest evangelical film to hit theaters, pulled in $8.5 million in ticket sales last weekend. This is impressive, given it was only showing in 780 theaters. Before there was a movie, though, there was a song: The film notably features a song on the soundtrack by the same name, Newboys' "God's Not Dead," from 2011.

This is the first song of the Christian group's 15th studio album, which is also called "God's Not Dead." In the music video, people are surprised to see media telling them authoritatively that there is no God. They then respond with a social media campaign, blogging, tweeting, publishing and singing that God's not dead, "he's living on the inside/he's roaring like a lion."

The set-up is not dissimilar to the set-up for the film. However, that 2011 song is not the first time that set-up has been the source of a song.

Before there was that song, there were some others.

In the bluegrass-gospel song "God's Not Dead at My House," written by Kentucky minister Cagan McQueen, it's academics who wrongly report of the divinity's demise. It makes news, and the believer is imagined in the position of fighting back against the headlines:
The other day I picked up the paper,
I want to tell you what the paper said.
Some poor dimwit professor
Had been a-teachin' that God was dead.
Well it must have been one of those prophets
from back in in Elijah's time.
Everywhere I look around my house,
I can see where God left his sign. 
God's not dead at my house
'Cause I done found his track.
I don't think he's gone far away.
I'm sure that he'll be back.
I always call when I need him
and he answers every time.
God's not dead at my house,
and I can show you where he left his sign.
It's not clear when McQueen wrote this song or pressed this album, but it would appear to be from the '70s, judging by the album artwork:

"God's Not Dead at My House" is an especially interesting version of this song because of where God is found alive. God has made the bed, in this song. God put bread in the cupboard. God's tracks are in the garden, among the beans.

More frequently, as with Newsboys' song, the living God is experienced in more subjective ways. Don Todd, for example, in the country-gospel song, "If God is Dead," from the album "From God with Love," asks, "If God is dead, who's this living in my soul?"

That's a classic experiential evidence of the existence of God, common among evangelicals, who emphasize the importance of a personal conversion experience.

In fact the most common song with the title "God's Not Dead" locates God with a feeling in the hands, feet, and "all over me."

This is a gospel classic, which has been recorded numerous times. There aren't any versions of this song on the soundtrack to this latest movie, though. This is unfortunate, because there are some amazing versions of this song.

Here are three of the most amazing versions of "God's Not Dead" the gospel song:

Fannie Evans, with James Cleveland and the Charles Fold Singers, live in 1978:

Televangelist Tammy Bakker, performing as a puppet as part of the Jim & Tammy & Their Friends show, from the album, "Oops, There Comes a Smile," in 1978:

Gene Martin and the Miracle Valley Choir, at one of healing evangelist A.A. Allen's Pentecostal revivals, circa the late 1960s: