This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recorded music, stories, and narrative from my forthcoming book: Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier.
William Van Orsdel, “Brother Van,” known as the best loved man in Montana. (ca. late 1800s)
Harvest Time The seed I have scattered in spring-time with weeping and watered with tears and with dews from on high; Another may shout when the harvesters reaping shall gather my grain in the sweet by and by. Over and over, yes-deeper and deeper my heart is pierced through with life's sorrowing cry, but the tears of the sower and the songs of the reaper shall angle together in joy by and by. By and by, by and by by and by, by and by But the tears of the sower and the songs fo the reaper shall mingle together in joy by and by. Then palms of victory, crowns of glory, palms of victory I shall wear.
William Van Orsdel (1848-1919), known as Brother Van, was often referred to as “the best loved man in Montana.” Brother Van, an enthusiastic singer, often broke into song during his sermons. He was a 19th century Methodist minister and circuit rider – a preacher who rode from town to town conducting church services. He tirelessly preached the gospel to congregations both large and small – on a steamboat, in saloons, in churches, and on rustic homesteads throughout the state of Montana. As a young man, a riverboat captain asked why he was going to Montana, Brother Van replied, “To sing, to preach and to encourage people to be good.”
For more about Brother Van and how he once saved his life with music, you’ll have to read my forthcoming book! I just learned that my manuscript has moved into the paging or pagination phase-which means another step closer to the publication date-early 2022.