My Mama is a singer. I consider her a big singer. No; she is not the kind of singer that has achieved acclaim from the singing world. Her name has never been on a theatre marquee. She has never been to a recording studio or cut a long play album. In fact; I don’t suppose she knows, or cares very much about such things. The reason I consider my Mama a big singer is because she sings; and because my Mama has always got a song.


My Mama has a song for every occasion. When I was growing up she had a song for tucking us kids into bed at night; and another for waking us up the next morning. And then she sang while she cooked pancakes for her hungry brood. She had songs for working in the garden and for washing piles of laundry. And when my mama worked like a man in various endeavors beside my Dad, she fortified herself and those around her with a variety of songs sufficient to totally astonish most people.


I particularly remember one afternoon,


My folks owned hay baling equipment; and we did custom baling. Usually Mama drove the tractor, I drove the truck to move the bales from the field to the barn and Dad and a hired man bucked the bales. This afternoon however, the baler was broke down and my father was having an unusually hard time getting it back in adjustment. Adding to the frustration was this; the weather was especially hot, the hired man kept on collecting his wages even though no hay was being moved, and, as if that weren’t enough, ominous thunderheads were threatening to dump rain on the whole endeavor. At times like that many people swear and most of the rest of us at least mutter their sentiments. My Mama spent her afternoon singing. Someone would say something and a word or two would remind her of a line or the chorus of a song and that’s all it took. Mama would have a song to fit the moment.


Meanwhile, the hired man was having his own frustration. It appears he was not used to such a massive dose of “pure religion.” After several hours of Mama’s songs, he finally blurted out, “Katie, is there anything anyone could say that you would not have a song for?”


Mama thought about that for a moment and then some words written by Elton M. Roth came to her aid. You got it Mister; she answered that hired man with a song.


I have a song that Jesus gave me,

It was sent from heaven above


He put within my heart a melody,

And I know it’s there to stay.


Twill be my endless theme in glory..


During a childhood that was more transitional then most, Mama’s songs were the one constant in my life. She prayed with songs. She praised with songs. She admonished with songs. And she encouraged with songs. Not the least person to receive encouragement from her singing was Mama herself.


Several years back Mama went through one of the hardest times of her life. Her marriage had just come drastically and irretrievably apart. She walked into my living room and sat down in my big stuffed chair. After a couple of minutes of total silence, once again it started to come; Mama started singing. I watched in amazement while the weight of the last thirty years rolled off her shoulders. Really, I should not have been amazed at all because MAMA HAS ALWAYS HAD A SONG.


Mama is visiting in the service tonight. She came up to me a little while ago, opened her purse and brought out a yellowed sheet of notebook paper where she had years ago written down some verses. “Jonas,” she asked, “do you remember this song?”


My Mama has still got a song tonight, and in my mind she is one of the biggest singers I know.


From a sermon at

Grace Fellowship

Iowa City, Iowa


Jonas J. Borntreger

c.a. 1987