Monday, May 12, 2008

Dottie Rambo

I hardly even know what to say. I didn't see the news til this evening, long after most people had experienced the first shock. I'm still at a loss for words.

I didn't grow up with Gospel music, but Dottie Rambo's songs have become an important part of my singing, my writing, and my life.

I lead the congregation in "I Go to the Rock" in a Gospel Vespers service at St. John's York Mills. Our choir sang "Behold the Lamb" countless times, usually during communion. When Joel Lindsey pitched "Shepherd of the Hills" to me, he said, "This was my attempt to write a Dottie Rambo song". I knew I'd love it before I heard a note. I have heard students of all levels sing "He Looked Beyond My Fault" at singing school, and I'm always amazed at the power of a new lyric to transform a classic melody.

But the song that has changed my life the most is "Sheltered in the Arms of God". I fell in love with it the first time I heard it. Monika and I sang it in church services and concerts. It was the first song that made me go, "Written by Dottie Rambo - I need to learn more about her." And when we lost Steve, there was no other song that made sense. The choir sang it at his service. I cried through every note, feeling the overwhelming pain of my loss, but knowing that Steve was at peace, and that he was truly sheltered in God's loving embrace.

A few weeks ago, I was blessed to meet Dottie Rambo and hear her speak at NSAI. She spoke about songwriting, and I got to request a song. Lead by Miss Dottie, we all sang "Sheltered" in ragged four part harmony. I've had a lot of special experiences here in Nashville, but that will forever be one of the best.

We'll miss you, Miss Dottie.

So let the storms rage high, the dark clouds rise,
They won't worry me for I'm sheltered safe within the arms of God;
He walks with me and naught of Earth can harm me,
Sheltered safe within the arms of God.

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