Devotions

Noticing the Light • Devotion #1: “I Wonder As I Wander”

“I Wonder As I Wander” is written by folklorist John Jacob Niles. I love how he got the idea for the song. In “Notes for an Unfinished Autobiography,” Niles wrote:

“‘I Wonder As I Wander’ grew out of three lines of music sung for me by a girl who called herself Annie Morgan. The place was Murphy, North Carolina, and the time was July 1933. The Morgan family, revivalists all, were about to be ejected by the police, after having camped in the town square for some little time, cooking, washing, hanging their wash from the Confederate monument and generally conducting themselves in such a way as to be classed a public nuisance. Preacher Morgan and his wife pled poverty; they had to hold one more meeting in order to buy enough gas to get out of town. It was then that Annie Morgan came out—a tousled, unwashed blond, and very lovely. She sang the first three lines of the verse of “I Wonder As I Wander.” At twenty-five cents a performance, I tried to get her to sing all the song. After eight tries, all of which are carefully recorded in my notes, I had only three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material—and a magnificent idea.”

Please try to envision this little girl going about her chores, oblivious to those around, as she sings this little song.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,

How Jesus, the Saviour, did come for to die.

For poor, ornery people like you and like I

I wonder as I wander

Out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus, ‘twas in a cows’ stall,

With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.

But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,

And the promise of ages

It did then recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing:

A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing;

Or all of God’s angels in heaven to sing,

He surely could have had it,

‘Cause He was the King!

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,

How Jesus, the Saviour, did come for to die.

For poor, ornery people like you and like I

I wonder as I wander

Out under the sky.

This Christmas season please wonder as you wander about Jesus coming to die for us. He died for ornery people like us. His birthplace was nothing fancy which I am sure Annie Morgan could relate. As King, He could have asked for anything, but He kept it simple and the angels came to sing. Jesus came to be our Savior. He was born to die – for us.

As you are tempted to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, think about what you are thinking about – wonder while you wander.



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