Roy Exum: My Prayers, My Music

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - by Sarah Wiggers, Lee University
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
The other night I realized I have lagged on my prayers, which are very important to me. If you have read my stories for any time at all, you may already know I have three prayer lists. The “A List” is my toughest, because between those who I love and who are also ‘Stage 4” cancer patients, those in the final innings of degenerative heart disease, the coma kid who they are going to pull the plug on life support tomorrow, there is little I can do but beg God’s grace for comfort in the final hours, shortly to come.

The A list also includes those whose bad judgment is in the hands of divorce attorneys, the mother who is at wit’s end with opioid addiction, and the daughter who steals her pills to feed her own fires.
I pray for those whose business is belly up and … who haven’t paid withholding taxes in two years, my friends who get stopped for speeding in a far-away state and the trooper’s check says their license is suspended, and the fact Delta Air Lines made $7 billion (with a ‘b’) on baggage fees alone last year. (This may be legal but that don’t make it right…) I pray somebody will tell Delta enough is enough.

Yes, I pray for mercy and kindness to those who have succumbed to “the human condition.” I do not judge nor find fault with the obvious. I can only petition for God’s grace with prayers no matter the circumstance. When one is in embarrassing trouble, I want to be the friend no matter how hard the rain.

My B list is far easier. I pray for the surgeon’s hands during a friend’s hysterectomy, that another will be accepted in the Naval Academy following my plea to the acceptance committee. I pray for the laid-off pal as he goes to job fairs, and the girl who needs money to pay the transmission shop. I pray for those with mental struggles to please stay on their meds, and that a boy named Boss with navigate through a public school quagmire.

The C list is light to haul. Erlanger’s overcrowding, the ridiculous 5-hour wait in the Memorial ER when I sat there bleeding, the blessings for an amazing autistic kid who just graduated from Trevecca in the 12 years it took to do it. The Humane Society and its money raise for  a new facility, wisdom for the County Commission to study and increase a tax call for “the non-school departments” who have suffered because of the relentless greed of the public schools, and the new-found joy that we can save millions by instituting definitive-action plans to get our mentally-challenged out of the County Jail which, tragically, up until now has been the only available dumping ground for people who are not criminals

Understand, if all you do is pray for help it muffles the thanks for answered prayer – God likes it when we are thankful for His undying love. (Did you get that ... “undying love?”)

As you can see, my prayer time takes more than most. So, what I have newly found is the ideal answer is to sit on my porch, with my cigar and cup of octane, and listen to my music as I render my prayers. My music is one of the true happiness moments in my day. According to my iTunes account, in the past 20-plus years my personal collection, or my ‘playlist,’ now totals 3,984 songs which, if played end on end, would take 9.9 days and those are 24 hours non-stop.

My playlist is heavy on Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Yanni, Burt Bacharach and Carole King. I love country music, particularly Ronnie Millsaps, Conway Twitty, Tom T. Hall and the vintage Jimmy Dean. I also adore religious music, so there is a hefty list of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, the Gaither family, Sandy Patty, Lionel Harris and Amy Grant.

I’ve got a stack of songs by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and, with Elvis, they are in a league of their own. Put Andrea Bocelli in the legends group as well. A wonderful hymn-smith named Carroll Roberson, who many believe is the actual voice in the dazzling “One Pair of Hands,” needs a nudge;  I’ve heard the tape attributed to Elvis, and then listened to Carroll and, so help me, it is one and the same.

I have a dozen different artists singing Amazing Grace, and I find the version by Il Divo is the best. I just added the newest album by Susan Boyle, the woman whose debut on Britain Has Talent – at age 47 with no experience – resulted in over 25 million visits to watch her sing, “I Dreamed a Dream” on YouTube.

My favorite songs? The Beach Boys singing “God Only Knows” is at the top and then I’ll hear the theme song from “Somewhere in Time,” the original cast of “Chorus Line” presenting “What I Did for Love,” or Elvis’ “Trilogy” and still can’t decide. The theme song of “An Affair To Remember” seems like it has been in my heart forever and “Karen’s Theme” from the Carpenters still makes me cry.
Patriotic songs I simply love, particularly if a choir from one of our military academies sings a rousing version. I got to see Sammy Davis Jr. do some soft shoe with “Me and my Shadow” and the Broadway albums with Gordon MacRae in “Oklahoma,” Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music,” all of Andrew Lloyd Weber ….

Do you have any idea what musical treasures we once took for granted in Rodgers & Hammerstein? It’s beyond comprehension after such stunning Broadway shows as “Oklahoma!,” “Carousel,’ “South Pacific,” “The King and I” and, oh yes, that best collection of songs ever on vinyl – “The Sound of Music” – and after 54 years I still cry when Christopher Plummer, in one of the best scenes of all time, picked up a guitar and haltingly gives us "Edelweiss.” My collection has four different artists’ renditions but Plummer is still the best.

As you can see, there is nowhere to start and stop. Because Apple invented a way to shuffle the songs in no order, that’s the greatest gift of all. Each new song keeps me from becoming maudlin. I have no idea what will come next. To me “Born in the USA” and “The Lion King” become lullabies and while this is only a guess, God loves my music too, or such warm thoughts and many memories would be unattainable as MY Jesus can easily sense my prayers start in my heart.

* * *


The experts say they can tell a lot about a person if they dig deep enough to learn their favorite songs. I have always thought such a revelation would earn me an immediate trip to the CooCoo House. You be the judge but here is a look at me through my personal stash of music.

I realize when you become older many younger readers will have never heard these songs, so I have taken the liberty to include YouTube references. I hope you’ll find a song that touches your soul like these touch mine. Who knows, you may find a musical friend, or allow a tune on two in your prayers in the chance you may find a new musical friend, or borrow when you pray.

Let’s assume each song is right at three to four minutes (Ray Charles’ song, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” lasts 4:22 and, incidentally, was the B-side of a .45 by country music’s Don Williams. It wasn’t supposed to do much, which is why it backed Don’s “Oh Lonesome Me.” By the time Don died in 2003 – “I Can’t Stop Loving You” had been recorded by over 700 singers since its release in 1958.
Last week, on a drizzly afternoon, I turned on my iPod and, just for giggles, here is the random shuffle, in order, of what came out of my song box:

* -- IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT by Carly Simon (YouTube
* -- LONELY TEARDROPs by Jackie Wilson (YouTube
* -- TO THE ONE WHO KNOWS by Yanni (YouTube
* -- IF I HAD MY WAY, by Linda Eder (YouTube
* -- ANTHEM (Chess), by Roderick Dixon (YouTube
* -- DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME by Barry Manilow and Momma Cass Elliott (YouTube
* -- KISS AN ANGEL GOOD MORNIN’ by Charley Pride (YouTube
* -- SMILE by Steve Tyrell (YouTube
* -- I CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOU (Elvis) by The Piano Guys (YouTube
* -- A  HOUSE IS NOT A HOME by Burt Bacharach (YouTube
* -- THE OLD RUGGED CROSS by Mickey Gilley (YouTube
* -- BEFORE YOU KILL US ALL, by Randy Travis (YouTube
* -- I ADORE YOU, by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (YouTube
* -- I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, by the John Tesh Project (YouTube
* -- I BELIEVE by Robson & Jerome (YouTube
* -- FROG LEGS RAG by James Scott 1906 version by James Scott (YouTube
* -- IF EVER I WOULD LEAVE YOU by Robert Goulet YouTube
* -- I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU (Live) by Whitney Houston (YouTube
* -- I’VE GOT A CRUSH ON YOU by Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra (YouTube
* -- THE FARMER & THE LORD by Jimmy Dean (YouTube
* -- MAN IN MOTION, LOVE THEME FROM ‘ST. ELMO’S FIRE’ by David Foster (YouTube
* -- I AM A MAN, by Chicago (YouTube
* -- NEW WAYS TO DREAM (60 AT 60 EDIT) BY Patti Lupone (in “Sunset Blvd” by Andrew Lloyd Weber) (YouTube
* -- LA VIE EN ROSE by Andrea Bocelli with Edith Piaf (YouTube
* -- I WON’T BE THE ONE TO LET GO by Barry Manilow and Barbra Streisand (YouTube
* -- BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER – THE POWER OF MUSIC by Josh Groban and Jennifer Malenke (YouTube
* -- I’M JUST A GIGOLO / I AIN’T GO NOBODY by the Jive Aces – King of the Swingers (YouTube
* -- TOMORROW (FROM “ANNIE’) by Alicia Morton (YouTube
* -- MAN FROM LA MANCHA, by Linda Eder, from ‘Broadway My Way (YouTube
* -- TO DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM, by Richard and Adam on ‘Britain’s Got Talent, 2013 (YouTube
* -- LET THE LITTLE GIRL DANCE by Billy Bland (YouTube
* -- YOU ARE MY DESTINY by Paul Anka (YouTube
* -- WISE MEN SAY … by Elvis Presley. (YouTube

* * *

Oh my goodness … now you see why music blessed my prayers. That, or you are dialing 9-1-1 to send the white coats. I admit it, my music allows me to delight in my daily prayers. Some day I hope you’ll be on my ‘C’ List, I would really like that and I’m one who knows ‘answered prayer’ is very real and I like sharing it.

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