Pass It On – It only takes a spark

Author: Kurt Kaiser (1969)

It only takes a spark to get a fire going

And soon all those around can warm up to its glowing

That’s how it is with God’s love

Once you’ve experienced it
You spread your love to everyone
You want to pass it on

What a wondrous time is spring when all the trees are budding
The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You want to sing, it’s fresh like spring
You want to pass it on

I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found
You can come join in, it matters not where you’re bound
I’ll shout it from the mountain tops
I want the world to know
The joy of friends has come to me
I want to pass it on

I remember singing this song during Camps. Thank God for those Brethren In Christ Church and Scripture Union camps. They made me into what I am today. Sometimes songs allow us to time-travel.  It only takes a spark to get a fire going.  Those words, along with that tune, bring me back to my BICC and Scripture Union camp days.  And soon all those around will warm up in it’s glowing.  The smell of the campfire and the taste of Nsima and hot tea on a cold evening.

The information I found about this hymn comes from The General Board of Discipleship History of Hymns (as well as other sources).  I learned that Kurt Kaiser, born in 1934 in Chicago, wrote this hymn ~ so it’s relatively new compared to some of the other hymns in our hymnal.  Kaiser made is career in music as a composer and author and composed more than 60 hymn texts and tunes.  In 2001 he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of fame.

His intent with Pass it On was to create a modern Just As I Am for a Christian youth musical he was composing in 1969 called Tell It Like It Is.  In his own words he describes the writing of this hymn saying, “On a Sunday night I was sitting in our den by the fireplace where there were remnants of a fire, and it occurred to me that it only takes a spark to get a fire going . . . and the rest came very quickly. My wife suggested that I should say something about shouting it from mountaintops, and that ended up in the third verse. It only took about 20 minutes to write the lyrics. Afterwards my wife and I went for a walk, letting the song ruminate in our minds.”

After that, the song took on a life of it’s own.  Kaiser continues, “I am always amazed how the Lord can take a little song and use it to reach so many people. It has been sung at countless weddings and funerals, at ordination services, by the Sea of Galilee, in Zimbabwe and in Zambia, on the aircraft carrier Enterprise, and lots of camps.”  It’s a simple song with a powerful message, reminding us of Jesus Great Commission in Matthew 28, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”  Whether we first heard it at church or around a campfire or at a youth gathering, this song reminds us of what is most important in the life of faith.  The Lord of Love has come to me, I want to pass it on.

James 3: 5-10.

5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin families, the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

10-12 My friends, this can’t go on. A spring does not gush fresh water one day and sewage the next, does it? Mango trees do not bear watermelons, do they?  Tomato shrubs  do not bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? You reap what you sow. Watch your tongue!

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