Composer Eugene Monroe Bartlett, Sr.
I heard an old, old story,
How a Saviour came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Then I repented of my sins;
And won the victory.
O victory in Jesus,
My Saviour, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood
I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing power revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory.
I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up there
The song of victory.
Victory is defined as The defeat of an Enemy. If there is anything we need today it is Victory! Amen! Eugene Bartlett (1885-1941) author and composer of both words and music of this song, was born in Missouri on Christmas Eve of 1885. He dedicated his life to Jesus at an early age. After finishing Hall-Moody Institute in Martin, Tenn., he began teaching in singing schools. Because of his musical gifts and talents, young Bartlett was a sought-after music teacher and was a very well-known gospel hymnist in the early 20th Century in the South.
Besides teaching and writing music for several decades. One of Bartlett’s main objectives was to teach worshippers to sight read a song by using “shape” notes, an assigned shape for each tone on an eight-note scale makes it easier for the common person to “read” the music. In 1939, Bartlett’s health suffered a serious blow when he had a major stroke. He spent much of the last two years of his life bedridden, so it’s surprising that he wrote his most well-known song, “Victory in Jesus”, at that time. Or is it? It’s said that Bartlett missed traveling and teaching, but he could still study the Bible, a study from which he gave us this song, his last. While much of the earth sat on the brink of World War II, Bartlett looked beyond that to a victory none of us can know on earth.
Though he could see an end to his life approaching, he also noticed something else about ends. If you live for the competition, to play the game, then the end is bittersweet, even if it culminates in triumph and a trophy. Bartlett must have experienced some depression, if he was human like all of us. In fact, it’d be quite impossible to be as productive as Bartlett was, and not miss the life one has lived. But another part must have seen his physical descent as just a temporary blip, a normal part of the human condition. Though an earthly victory comes at the finish line, Bartlett’s first and second verses tell us that he had already experienced his eternal victory well before his earthly end approached. And, thank God that is the one that endures! 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Bartlett is considered a founding father of Southern Gospel music, and he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1979. Throughout his 56 years of life, he composed more than 800 songs, including Everybody Will Be Happy Over There, and Just a Little While to Stay Here. He wrote the words to his last hymn in 1939 – Victory in Jesus two years before his death.