Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hymns & Hymn Writers: I Love the Lord by David R. Kenney

Tommy Wheeler wrote this song in response to the question as to why he loved the Lord.  “I Love the Lord” was his favorite hymn.
Tommy Wheeler (1931-2016), Lyricist & Music
Tommy Wheeler was the only child to Palmer Esker Wheeler (1904-1983) and Lena Bandy Wheeler, and he was born February 1, 1931 in Scottsville, KY.  His father was an accomplished hymn writer, and he taught Tommy about music as he was learning to read.  His parents were converted out of the Baptist Church, and his mother was converted by G. K. Wallace.  His father had spent many years singing with the Vaughan and Stamps Quartet.  His father taught music at Freed-Hardeman College (now University) from 1937-1939 during which time Tommy attended grade school in Henderson, TN.  His father decided to devote his life to leading singing in evangelistic efforts.  Palmer led singing for preachers such as N. B. Hardeman, Foy E. Wallace, Jr., E. R. Harper, and G. C. Brewer. 
Tommy Wheeler had a B.A. in Music from Abilene Christian College (now University) and a M. A. in Music from Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX.  He had a career in teaching music in public schools and also worked in the banking industry.  When his father retired from the work, Wheeler coordinated the music for “Way of Truth” TV program for 30 years.  He wrote many songs published by Stamps-Baxter Music Company, but “I Love The Lord” first appeared in his own hymnal, Gospel Gems in 1970 which contained all of his father’s hymns plus 30 of Tommy’s hymns.  He was elected in 1976 to the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP).  He and his father wrote Down Memory Lane With the Wheelers in 1977 which was a biographical sketch of their family.  He married Beth Wood Wheeler in 1956; however she passed away in 1965.  He then married his second wife, Joyce Preston Wheeler.  On February 9, 2010, Tommy Wheeler donated his family’s music scores to Freed-Hardeman University Archives which are entitled “The Wheeler Family Music Collection”.  Tommy Wheeler wrote hundreds of hymns including some with his cousin, Max Wheeler.  Tommy Wheeler passed away November 21, 2015 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Paris, TX.  He was survived by his wife, Joyce Wheeler, two sons (Dennis and Gary), one daughter (Kathy Wheeler Lemay), grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 
I Love The Lord
The psalmist wrote “I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications” (Psalm 116:1, NKJV.) which is the passage one biographer who discussed this song with Tommy Wheeler cited.  Also, the precious answer for us—“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV.) 
One can quickly detect the influence of these passages in Wheeler’s lyrics—“I love the Lord, for He died my soul to save, On Calvary His dear life He freely gave.  From realms above, Jesus freely came to die, That I might live some day with Him on high.”
Before you write God off as unsympathetic, uncaring, or unloving, consider these words—“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV.)



Cain, David.  “I Love the Lord – Tommy Wheeler.”  No Pages.  Cited 23 May 2016.  Online:
Finely, George E., ed.  Our Garden of Song – A Biography of Song Writers of the Church of Christ and Articles and Other Items of Interest of Our Worship in Song.  West Monroe, LA:  Howard Publishing Company, 1980.
Howard, V. W., and Broadus E. Smith, eds.  Church Gospel Songs & Hymns. Texarkana, TX:  Central Printers & Publishers, 1983.
“Tommy Wheeler.” No pages.  Cited 23 May 2016.  Online:
“Wheeler.” Gospel Advocate  158 (2016): 41.
Wiegand, John P., ed. Praise for the Lord.  Nashville, TN:  Praise Press, 1997.

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