I grew up singing about the all seeing eye in church and after I discovered how old it is, I’m betting Pap grew up singing about it as well.
The name of the old song I’m talking about is Watching You. It was written by John Melvin Henson and was copyrighted in 1915. Henson, who was born in 1887 in Curryville, GA, also penned Anywhere Is Home, I’ll Live In Glory, and Happy Am I all of which are familiar hymns from my growing up years.
When I was researching the song, I was surprised to see more than a few folks thought it was intimidating. I was reminded of the time, Vicki Lane, one of my favorite writers, pointed out the fear in a different old gospel song-He Will Set Your Fields On Fire. When I first read her description I thought “Now that’s one of the peppiest songs I know-it’s not scary.”
I popped in one of Pap’s old cds and gave the song another listen, and decided that it could indeed cause fear, after all the song does have a strong warning of what will happen if one doesn’t from sin retire–he will set your fields on fire.
I’ve struggled on more than one occasion to try to describe or explain the strange correlation between fear, religion, comfort, and Appalachia.
In the same way the people of Appalachia were drawn to the old murder ballads that came along with them over the big pond I believe many of them were (and are) drawn to the gospel songs of dire warnings and consequences.
We filmed the video of Watching You way back in 2010. You’ll notice both nephews are in the video. In those days they were picking and grinning with us every Sunday afternoon. (Mark is centered between Pap and Paul and Ben is the arm you see at the very beginning of the video)
Watching You is track 15 on Pap and Paul’s recent cd Shepherd of My Soul. The cd contains 13 original songs written by Pap, 1 written by Paul, 3 gospel standards (one is Watching You), and one Instrumental Reprise of the first song on the cd. The cd is now available on CD Baby. You can download the entire cd or pick and choose-only purchasing the track(s) you prefer. Go here if you’re interested.