My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Keep The Old Love Burning

In perusing through old books and pamphlets tonight I came across this gem and felt it should be shared with everyone.

Charles A. Callis has always been a personal hero of mine. Born in 1865 in Dublin, Ireland, he and his small family (consisting of a widow mother and three siblings) joined the Church while living in England and emigrated to Utah when he was just ten years old. After serving as a missionary back in England, he was called again as a newly married young man to serve in the Southern States Mission of the Church (along with his wife and their two young daughters). After a faithful mission he and his family returned to Utah, only to be called immediately to return to the South. Then after just four months back in the mission field he was called as president of the Southern States Mission. He would serve in that calling from August of 1908 until his call as an Apostle in October of 1933.

Charles A. Callis at the Time of His Call as Mission President

Elder Callis loved the Southern United States and dedicated his life to building the Gospel and the Church here. It is of little surprise that on assignment to Jacksonville, Florida in January 1947 to organize the first stake of the Church in the South, Elder Callis died among his beloved brothers and sisters.

He was a true saint.

As mission president Charles A. Callis published a small booklet in 1921 to preserve the songs being written and sung by the elders in the South. The Preface to his booklet reads in part:

A few words relative to the origin and use of the “Old-Time Southern States Missionary Songs.” They were written by Elders during their missionary days in Dixie. In response to numerous requests these songs are now compiled and published…It is not intended that they be sung at religious services in lieu of the “strong, stalwart hymns of the present dispensation” which are in our hymn books.

Perhaps President Callis was making reference to Elder B.H. Roberts (former president of the Southern States Mission also) who had written in his then-popular “Seventies’ Course in Theology, First Year”,

Let the strong stalwart hymns of the present dispensation be practiced in the quorums, and not the namby, pamby, childish hymns that sometimes find their way into the repertoire of songs sung by our Elders in the mission field.

I am sure that President Callis didn’t want to upset his priesthood leader by having a “namby, pamby, childish hymn” sung by the Saints in their religious services. But included in his booklet in 1921 was this magnificent gem written by Elder Charles Franklin Steele of Coalville, Utah. It was sung to the tune of the popular World War I song “Keep the Home Fires Burning”. And I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Keep The Old Love Burning

We were called forth from the workshop,
We were summoned from the plow,
And the store and desk and factory
All miss our presence now.
With glad tidings of the Gospel,
Revealed from realms of light,
We have canvassed gladly all the day,
And sung this song at night.

Keep the old love burning and our mem’ries turning
Back to dear old Dixieland, we love her true;
Here we cry repentance, often hear our sentence,
Yet the gospel trump we sound, and it calls to you.

O’er the mountains of Virginia,
Alabama’s gulf-washed strands.
Mississippi’s swamps and branches,
And old Georgia’s fruitful lands.
From the hills of Carolina,
And Kentucky’s emerald fields,
To the balmy coasts of Florida,
This chorus proudly wheels:

Keep the old love burning and our mem’ries turning
Back to dear old Dixieland, we love her true;
Here we cry repentance, often hear our sentence,
Yet the gospel trump we sound, and it calls to you.

And Atlanta, queen of Dixie,
Crowning fair the Blue Ridge hills,
Is headquarters for the Mission,
And the cure for all our ills;
Tennessee takes up the chorus,
And the pure in heart obey,
Rejoicing in the wondrous light
That moves us all to pray.

Keep the old love burning and our mem’ries turning
Back to dear old Dixieland, we love her true;
Here we cry repentance, often hear our sentence,
Yet the gospel trump we sound, and it calls to you.

Hark! ye people of the southland,
To the Mormon Elder’s voice,
For Jehovah soon shall triumph
With the people of His choice.
Come, be born again and worship
With the favored Saints of God.
Throw off all your sinful shackles
And escape the tyrant’s rod.

Keep the old love burning and our mem’ries turning
Back to dear old Dixieland, we love her true;
Here we cry repentance, often hear our sentence,
Yet the gospel trump we sound, and it calls to you.

When our missions we’ve completed,
Our releases we have read,
Ate our last baked sweet potato,
Turnip greens and hot corn bread;
Then we’ll bid farewell to Dixie,
But we’ll long for her again,
And in Zion at reunions
We will sing this happy strain:

Keep the old love burning and our mem’ries turning
Back to dear old Dixieland, we love her true;
Here we cry repentance, often hear our sentence,
Yet the gospel trump we sound, and it calls to you.

I don’t plan on bidding Dixie farewell anytime soon, but I’m thankful for Elder Steele who penned these beautiful words, thankful for President Callis for preserving them for our day, and thankful to be able to build up this small part of Zion at this time in my mortal probation.

Wherever you are in your stakes of Zion tonight, I hope you are keeping the old love burning also.

Your pal,

Stan

P.S. Included for your ease and enjoyment is this rendition of “Keep the Home Fires Burning“. Please feel free to play it over and over a few times to enjoy the true spirit of Elder Steele’s song from long ago. Have fun singing along!

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