Friday, June 26, 2015

Tommy Dorsey

For those too young to know who he is, Tommy Dorsey was a well-known band leader in the 1930's and 40's.   In 1932, Tommy was a fairly new husband. He and his wife Nettie lived in a tiny flat on Chicago 's south side. One hot August afternoon Tommy was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting.  He did not want to go as Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with their first child.  But a lot of people were expecting him in St. Louis at a huge revival.  Tom kissed Nettie goodbye, clattered downstairs to their Model A  and chugged out of Chicago on Route 66. Just outside the city limits, Tom suddenly remembered that he had forgotten his music case.  
He returned home and found Nettie sleeping peacefully.  He hesitated by her bed; while something was strongly telling him to stay.  Eager to get to his engagement, he chose not to disturb Nettie.  He shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with his music.  The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on Tommy to sing more gospel songs.  When he sat down on a break,  a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram.  Tommy ripped open the envelope. Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words:  YOUR WIFE JUST DIED.  People were happily singing and clapping around him and Tom struggled not to cry out. He rushed to a phone and called home. All he heard on the other end was "Nettie is dead.
Nettie is dead.'"  When Tom returned home he learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. He swung between grief and joy. Yet that same night, the baby died. He buried Nettie and his little boy together, in the same casket. Tommy fell apart and spent days in isolation.  He felt that God had done him an injustice and Tommy did not want to serve Him anymore or ever write another gospel song.  He was inclined to just go back to the jazz world that he once knew so well. But then, as Tommy hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, he thought back to the afternoon he had gone to St. Louis. He remembered that something was encouraging him to stay with Nettie.  With reflection Tommy admitted that he had most certainly
dismissed the Holy Spirit’s nudge to stay.  With that revelation, Tom realized that if he had paid more attention to Him that day, he would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died.  From that moment on Tommy vowed to listen more closely for His voice, for His gentle nudge, and His coaxing prod.   Everyone around him was kind, but Tom was submerged in grief. One loyal friend got him out of the house and took him up to a neighborhood music school.  He sat down at the piano, and his hands began to browse over the keys. Something overtook Tom's grief and he felt peace.  
Tommy believes that God touched Him with His presence. Suddenly Tom found his fingers moving across the keys playing a delightful melody.  These lyrics flowed from his spirit, to his fingers:  'Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn, through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.' The Lord gave Tommy Dorsey these
words and melody.  He also healed Tom's spirit. Tommy learned that when people are in deep grief, when people feel farthest from God, that in these moments is when people actually feel His presence.  During our lowest grief is when we are most open to His restoring power.  Tommy went on living for God willingly and joyfully, until the day came when God took him gently home. Tommy Dorsey November 19, 1905 - November 26, 1956.  Many hymns were born out of grief. "PRECIOUS LORD" and "AMAZING BRACE" are two songs given by God to heal many. 

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