Satisfied mind

Although Chris and I preform a lot of gospel songs, we don’t consider ourselves gospel performers. More generally, we don’t think of ourselves as Christian musicians, but only musicians who happen to be Christians. We leave our Christianity to manifest itself as the situation merits.

A couple of months ago we added the song "Satisfied Mind" to our repertoire. We’re very pleased with it, because even though we were inspired to do it by Darrell Scott’s version, it doesn’t sound like his or anyone else’s. It mostly fell into place as our own song when we started singing it, and we added some touches that we think are fine.

Here’s our version, as performed at the Kentucky Coffeetree Café this afternoon.

Here are the original lyrics.

How many times have you heard someone say
If I had his money I’d do things my way
But little they know that it’s so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind

Once I was winning in fortune and fame
Had all that I needed for a start in life’s game
Then suddenly it happened, I lost every dime
But I’m richer by far with a satisfied mind

Money can’t buy back your youth when you’re old
Or a friend when you’re lonesome, or a love that’s grown cold
And the wealthiest person is a pauper at times
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind

When this life is ended, my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones I’ll leave, there’s no doubt
But one thing for certain, when it comes my time
I’ll leave this old world with a satisfied mind

But one thing’s for certain, when it comes my time
I’ll leave this old world with a satisfied mind

Now to me that is a pure gospel song. And I wanted to do on WLJC-TV this past spring, the Christian station where we play occasionally. But I was a little edgy about it, because the song was missing an evangelical touchstone, namely the word "Jesus" somewhere.

I thought about on the three-hour drive to the TV station, and then it came to me. I asked Chris if he could handle this impromptu wording change in the last two lines:

But one thing’s for certain, since Jesus is mine
I’ll leave this old world with a satisfied mind

That’s how we did it then, and how we’ve done it since. And we like our arrangement so much that it is just about the only song we will repeat during an evening’s performance.
But now in theory we have the opposite problem, having added a mention of Jesus to a song that didn’t originally contain one. Should we sing it one way in Christian settings and the other in secular settings?

Well, we don’t. In fact, we sing lots of straight-ahead gospel songs in secular settings, because they are among some of the best we do.

We don’t tailor our message to our audience, or our audience to our message. We do take some care not to give unnecessary offense. We avoid rowdy songs when the audience is strait-laced. But we’ve also played the rowdier songs in a church setting, when we knew the audience would accept them. And we don’t stay away from gospel songs in a secular setting—but we don’t give a testimony in the middle, either.

Getting back to "Satisfied Mind," it gives me great pleasure to think that many unbelievers hear us sing that song, are drawn in by a message that any human being can relate to, and in those last two lines hear us give our reason for the hope that lies in us. They only hear it because we are singers who happen to be Christians, not because we are Christian singers.


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