Gospel Music Hall of Fame member Mosie Lister has died at age 93.
Renowned for creating such enduring classics as “Where No One Stands Alone,” “His Hand in Mine” and “He Knows Just What I Need,” the songwriter, arranger and publisher passed away on Thursday, Feb. 12. He lived in Spring Hill, TN.
Born Thomas Mosie Lister in Cochran, GA, he sang in his family’s gospel group and learned to play fiddle, piano and guitar as a youngster. He later said that he knew he wanted to become a songwriter even when he was a child performer. In 1939, he began studying at the Vaughan School of Music in Lawrenceburg, TN.
He joined The Sunny South Quartet in Tampa, FL in 1941. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he rejoined the group. In 1946, he joined The Melody Masters.
Mosie Lister became one of the founding members of The Statesmen Quartet in Atlanta in 1948. But he soon realized he wanted to get off the touring circuit to concentrate on his songwriting. So Jake Hess, Hovie Lister (no relation) and Jim Wetherington went forward as the nucleus of what became one of the most popular Southern-gospel quartets in history.
The songwriter/arranger maintained his ties to the group. He was soon providing The Statesmen with some of their most popular songs. He formed Mosie Lister Publications in 1953, and began placing his songs with many other gospel acts of the day.
Mosie Lister’s catchy compositions helped to define the entire Southern-gospel movement. In his history of the style, author James R. Goff Jr. wrote that Lister was, “by far the most influential gospel songwriter of the 1950s…. Perhaps more than any other songwriter of the era, Lister enjoyed the overwhelming respect of his peers.”
The Statesmen recorded his “Then I Met the Master,” “I’ll Leave it all Behind,” “Sunday Meetin’ Time,” “I’ve Found a New Friend,” “If to Gain the World,” “Oh What a Friend He Is to Me,” “The Gentle Stranger” and many others.
“He Knows Just What I Need,” Lister’s favorite of the songs he wrote, was recorded by The Statesmen, as well as by James Abbington, The Old Friends Quartet, The Blackwood Brothers, Faron Young and Bill Gaither. The Statesmen also recorded “I’m Bound for the Kingdom,” which was later released by Webb Pierce, Red Foley and Jimmie Davis.
The LeFevre Trio popularized his “I’m Feeling Fine.” The Blackwoods, The Cathedral Quartet, The Jordanaires, Paul Williams & The Victory Trio, J.D. Sumner & The Stamps, The Singing Gospelaires, The Blue Ridge Quartet, The Gaithers, The Talleys, The Hoppers and more spread Lister’s songs throughout Southern-gospel culture.
Gospel Singing World proclaimed in 1955, “it would be hard to find a known quartet not singing one of Mosie’s compositions among their best loved numbers.”
In 1960, Elvis Presley chose the songwriter’s 1953 composition “His Hand in Mine” as the title tune of his first gospel album. The disc earned a Platinum Record award and is regarded as one of the singer’s finest. Presley included Lister’s “Where No One Stands Alone” on his three million-selling 1967 collection How Great Thou Art, which won a Grammy Award.
“Where No One Stands Alone,” written in 1955, has also been recorded by Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Bill Anderson, Alison Krauss & The Cox Family, The Browns, Porter Wagoner, Ferlin Husky, Jean Shepard, George Hamilton IV, The Osborne Brothers, Jack Greene, The Louvin Brothers, Asleep at the Wheel, B.J. Thomas, Dottie West, Don Gibson, Jan Howard, Hank Snow and dozens of others.
“’Til the Storm Passes By,” written by Lister in 1958, was recorded by The Statler Brothers, The Gaither Vocal Band, The Inspirations, Vestal Goodman and Greater Vision, among others.
Lister’s 1956 song “How Long Has it Been” has been popularized by George Beverly Shea, Jim Reeves, Faron Young, Skeeter Davis, Jimmy Dean, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Del Reeves, The Homeland Quartet and more.
Other key titles in Mosie Lister’s 700-song catalog include “Happy Rhythm” (1953), “Goodbye, World, Goodbye” (1956), “I’ve Been Changed” (1959), “The King and I” (1954) and “While Ages Roll” (1970).
In 1975, he was ordained as a Baptist minister. He published his autobiography/memoir, The Song Goes On, in 2012.
Mosie Lister was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1976. He was one of the Hall’s first living inductees. In 1997, he became a member of the Southern Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame, whose museum is at Dollywood.
He is survived by his wife Martha Jean, twin daughters Brenda and Barbara, stepdaughter Vicki Booth, sister Margery Dillashaw and seven grandchildren.
The visitation will be held 4-8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 16, at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home. He will be buried at Williamson Memorial Gardens.
A “Homegoing Celebration” Concert will take place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at the People’s Church, 828 Murfreesboro Rd., Franklin, TN.
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