Precious Memories

With full respect given to the writer of this beautiful hymn, J.B.F. Wright (1925).

Precious memories, unseen angels,
Sent from somewhere to my soul.
How they linger ever near me,
And the sacred past unfolds.

Precious memories how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness of the midnight.
Precious sacred scenes unfold.

In the stillness of the midnight,
Echoes from the past I hear.
Old time singing, gladness ringing,
From that lovely land somewhere.

Precious memories how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness of the midnight.
Precious sacred scenes unfold.

As I travel on life’s pathway,
I know not what the years may hold.
As I ponder hope grows fonder,
Precious memories flood my soul.

Precious memories how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness of the midnight.
Precious sacred scenes unfold

Story Behind it!

The Tremendous Story Behind This Precious song!

The long and bitter Civil war was finally over. Young George Washington Wright – named after the great American general – could now take his lovely fiancee Cassandra Coley to be his bride. They were married and began to have children as soon as possible, to make up for the lost years of the Civil War.

Twelve in fact, was the number God blessed them with. The year was 1877.

The fifth child was a baby boy, whom they named Johnny. Johnny Wright. Times were very, very hard in those days for poor dirt farmers, and when Johnny was age two, his family moved to Limestone County Texas, to a little Community named “Box Church” where he attend the local school and grew up singing in the little local church.

His life didn’t seem to be anything special. He grew up uneventfully and married his childhood sweetheart Fannie, Fannie Jackson. They were married in 1902 and set off traveling across the great state of Texas to seek their land and make their fortune. The fortune they never found, and rambled across Texas for many years from one little homestead to another, in the dry, dusty land.

As Johnny and Fannie moved here and there, the word came in 1909 that mother had died, his Precious Mother. Five years later his father died as well. Johnny’s childhood had been full of singing as he grew up in his large family of twelve.

His mother was well known as a singer and his earliest memories were of singing together by her and his father of the songs of their youth. Though they didn’t always have enough food to eat, they always had songs to sing . . . and somehow in the blessed sound of music, the poverty didn’t seem quite as bad.

Now Johnny’s Mother and daddy were gone. He would never hear – or sing with them again.

IN his sorrow, Johnny began to write songs, . . . songs about what he remembered from his childhood, and songs about what he knew best: God, family, struggle and hard-times. As Johnny moved through his own struggling life the songs he wrote grew to over 500. Most were never recorded, . . . never became known . . . and were never sung by anyone but Johnny.

Years after he buried his Mother and day, a new little baby boy was born to Johnny in his later years – becoming truly the ‘Apple of his eye!’ Evertt they named him and what a joy he brought into their home.

Ever so sadly, age age five, Evertt got diphtheria – and in spite of many prayers and a million tears – went to be with Jesus.

In his sorrow, Johnny turned his thoughts back to his childhood and that of his dead son . . . yet more and more toward his own coming death . . . as certain as the sunset. Johnny spent his long, hard, waning years . . . lost in his memories:

Precious Memories they were . . . they were almost all he had.

It was a cool autumn night . . . where everything was dying . . . all the leaves were off the trees and nothing in the future but the bleakness and hunger of a long cold winter. Johnny took his guitar, and journeyed deep into his memories . . . and in his soul he began to sing . . . and write . . . the most famous of his 500 songs . . . simply titled:

“Precious Memories”

Sure enough, Johnny’s sad song brought love to the heart and a tear to the eye of all who listened carefully. It was printed in the 1920’s by a company named Harbor Bells, by V. O. Stamps and published by the Stamps-Baxter Music Co. It listed Johnny Wright as the owner, but with no copyright date.

It was a great hit with common people everywhere.

Mr. Stamps promised Johnny a fortune for the song, and there was an agreement for Johnny Wright to get a royalty each time the song was recorded, . . . indeed Johnny would have made a fortune . . . but it never came . . . always one legal hassle or another.

Soon Mr. V. O. Stamps died, and his sons would not honor their dad’s contract with Johnny Wright, and he had no money for lawyers to fight for his song. Just as World War-II broke out, the Stamps-Baxter Co. finally filed a copyright on “Precious Memories” in their own name – as was )and still is a practice by the powerful) they added one stanza to the end and claimed the whole song was theirs . . .

. . . knowing poor and tired Johnny Wright – now an aging, broken man, was too feeble to do anything about it. More years went by, and Johnny still struggled to make a living, never rising higher than a janitor of a local concern.

He always paused when he heard his song on the radio, with tears in his eyes and a mixture of joy and sorrow in his own heart. Sometime after the war, Johnny went to be with the Lord, . . . and his Mother and daddy, and his son Everrt.

After Johnny’s passing, A cousin reported that but he only received $36 from the Stamps Publishing company, in their first and only payment.

 May it be a blessing to you and may you always think of poor Johnny Wright – and his broken heart from whence this beautiful song and melody came – when you hear – or sing – his song.


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