The Circuit-Riding Preacher

The circuit-riding preacher used to ride across the land,
With a rifle on his saddle and a Bible in his hand;
He told the prairie people all about the promised land,
As he went riding, singing down the trail:

Last year I had the occasion to site down with the only circuit-riding preacher I’ve ever known. The history of the circuit-riders may prove to be among one of the most unique aspects of the spread of the gospel in the west. My history search shows that John Wesley began and developed an early circuit schedule in Europe to take the gospel to communities without preachers. In America, the Baptist and Methodist employed this strategy to do the same as the great westward expansion began.

 The circuit-riding preacher traveled through the mire and mud,
Told about the fiery furnace and of Noah and the flood;
He preached the way to heaven was by Jesus and the blood,
As he went riding, singing down the trail:

This kind of gospel advancement is heroic and rarely recalled today. There are not many books written of these courageous men. When I sat down with this circuit-riding preacher I was reminded of the struggles and hardships of preaching in places that few preachers will venture because there is no fame and glory there. But born of God with a commitment to faithfully preach the Bible sends this kind of preacher into wilderness lands filled with danger and loneliness.

The circuit-riding preacher slept in flee-infested barns,
Even then he felt the comfort of the everlasting arms;
That gave him strength to travel on to churches, homes and farms
As he went riding, singing down the trail:

This circuit-riding preacher I know is blessed of God to have taken this eternal gospel to people from the panhandle of Texas, across the mighty Rockies, and into the land where the deer and antelope play. This circuit rider still lives today. He didn’t travel from farm to ranch on a mule as the early riders did, but his duty of the word was of the same spirit as the early circuit-riders.

Now his Rifle’s old and rusty as it’s hanging on the wall,
His Bible’s worn and [weathered and can hardly be read at all,
but until the resurrection when we hear the trumpet call
His truth keeps marching on].

Today, that circuit-riding preacher is in Amarillo, Texas. He’s preached in places you have never heard of, buried saints throughout the west, he is a rich-poor man, frail and weak. But hear him today speak of His savior as he gasps for a breath is among the sweetest things I know.


the Circuit Riding Preacher, Tim Spencer, 1958

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