She's had 80-some years, most of them good But she's not gonna be here much longer Now the body gets weak like she knew it would But the Spirit just keeps getting stronger She's got her Bible and hymn book beside her She's storing those psalms and old songs up inside her
She knows all of the verses to How Great Thou Art And her soul, it doth magnify often And she's gonna keep learning the Scriptures by heart Till the day she is laid in her coffin She wants to be sure when the angels come take her That she's got some greetings for meeting her Maker
She will tell us if we'll only listen It's not about dying, it's all about living And whether you're young or the end's getting near There's just one reason why God has us here
We'll sing it by heart...How Great Thou Art Until the day we see your face...
C 2004 Songs of Peer, Ltd / Mr. Marley's Music (ASCAP)
About the Song
A couple of years ago I had the extreme pleasure of touring Canada with two of my heroes - Steve Bell and Bob Bennett. They are both such great songwriters and storytellers, I was beside myself with admiration and inspiration the whole time.
One night, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Steve was about to sing an old hymn, and by way of introduction he told a story about his grandmother. He explained that once, during a visit with her, it occurred to him that most days (when she didn't have company) she must be spending a lot of time by herself. He started to feel bad about that, I guess, because he asked her, "Gee, Nanny, what are you doing with your time these days?"
She replied that she was actually quite busy, learning as many Psalms and great old hymns as possible, preparing for Glory.
I was blown away by her answer and couldn't stop thinking about how right she had it - that however much time any of us have left, we should be busy doing "our homework", getting ready for the life that is to come. All the way home on a plane to Vancouver the next day, that story kept running through my brain, and pretty soon a song started to develop.
I tried to stop the song, of course - everyone knows you don't steal another songwriter's grandmother! But the song wouldn't go away, and by the time we landed it was done. I emailed Steve and explained what happened asked if I could, um, borrow his grandmother. He very graciously said that I could.
A particular thrill was having Steve and his daughter record the song for their own project (available at www.stevebell.com). My version features a group of good friends on the final Choruses - including some of the fine folks of Blue Mountain Baptist, with whom I gather any given Sunday that I'm home.