Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul – Update

Since the original posting of my article, Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul, on January 14, 2011, it has been read by internet users thousands of times. I suppose that is because a lot of lives were positively affected by this little song some time earlier in their lifetime. Or it could be that the song reminds folks of a special time in their lives which was very important to them. I am pleased that so many people have found the article worthwhile, especially around the Thanksgiving holiday which occurs in November in the USA. With this update, I am providing some additional background on the songwriters and their ministry. For convenience I first present the original article.

—————————————Original Article —————————————-

John 4:29 (NIV) “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

Background: Sometimes things just pop into your head from the past and you don’t know why. Recently a chorus that I learned as a child just keeps ringing in my brain for no apparent reason. The tune and words are etched in my memory. In times when I least expect it, I find myself humming the tune and repeating the words over and over:

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank You, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank You, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

The tune is simple and the words are easy to sing. But I’m not sure that I ever understood how profound these words really are. I recall learning this chorus in Vacation Bible School in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. Later on I know that we regularly sang it in our youth group. And even later, our church would use it as part of our worship service, particularly after someone came forward to give their life to Christ.

I decided to do a little research on the origin of the chorus and have found that it is actually a part of a hymn written by Seth and Bessie Sykes copyrighted in 1940. The Sykes were traveling Evangelists well-known in the United Kingdom and the United States. Their home base was located in Glasgow, Scotland the third largest city in the United Kingdom. Mr. Sykes (1892-1950) began his career as a conductor and motorman for Glasgow Corporation Tramways. He also served as Secretary for the Tramway Christian Association where he was allowed to hand out Christian literature and Bibles. In 1929 Sykes left his job and along with his wife became a full-time traveling evangelist. The Sykes were somewhat like today’s media Christian innovators in that they used lantern slides and rousing songs played by Bessie on their barrel organ to gain the full interest of their crowds. Seth’s sermons led countless people to Christ and this hymn was most assuredly sung as a regular part of their services.

Reflection: I thank God for giving … yes GIVING … me my salvation. There is no way I can take it for granted. It is God’s free gift. I simply must tell others what Jesus has done for me. I pray for the fervor that the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well had for telling others about Jesus after she encountered her Messiah. She left her water pot and ran back to town to tell everyone about what Jesus had done for her. John records the results of her testimony in John 4:39 (NIV) – “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’” Her message was simple. She didn’t have Biblical training or a special calling. All she did was tell others what Jesus had done for HER in her own words. That’s all that is required. Tell others in your own words what Jesus has done for you and let Christ do the rest.

I wonder if Seth and Bessie Sykes knew what an impact their simple hymn and chorus would have on future generations. I, for one, am indebted to them for this wonderful hymn and chorus. Perhaps the full lyrics of the hymn would inspire you to tell others what Jesus means to you.

Some thank the Lord for friends and home,
For mercies sure and sweet;
But I would praise Him for His grace —
In prayer I would repeat:

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank You, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank You, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

Some thank Him for the flow’rs that grow,
Some for the stars that shine;
My heart is filled with joy and praise
Because I know He’s mine.

I trust in Him from day to day,
I prove His saving grace;
I’ll sing this song of praise to Him
Until I see His face.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

————————————–Update July, 13, 2012———————————-

First off, here’s a link to HymnPod to play and sing along with the hymn “Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul.” Click on the link and then scroll down to the player and click on the start button.

Figure 1. Seth Sykes – 1892-1950

Recently I have come upon additional information about Seth and Bessie Sykes and want to share it with those who continuously search the internet for “Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul” and happen upon my blog. It is often helpful to understand the story behind a hymn to better understand the purpose of the songwriters in penning it to begin with. Figure 1. provides a picture of Seth Sykes in his full Glascow Corporation Tramway uniform. The picture was most likely taken prior to 1929 when Seth left his full-time job at the Tramway so he and Bessie could spend full-time on their already blooming ministry. Seth was a slight man with a big heart for Jesus. He and Bessie never looked back after they started their full-time ministry. They spread the word of the Lord wherever they went. They wrote Christian hymns and even published songbooks.

Figure 2. Great Gospel Campaign Poster
Announcing services led by Seth and Bessie Sykes at the Belfast City Mission.

Figure 2. is a poster announcing a “Great Gospel Campaign” led by the Sykes. Notice that the services were held daily for two full weeks with two services on Sundays. When I was young boy I can remember revival services lasting that length of time. I don’t believe that folks today would attend a series of meetings that would last that long … even for someone as famous as evangelist Billy Graham. Note the emphasis on a “Special Lantern Service” entitled “REVIVAL” that is highlighted on the poster. The “Magic Lantern” was a big draw in that day … a multi-media event well ahead of its time. Today’s society has come to expect such multi-media events complete with Powerpoint presentations, sound, video and references to web sites. But in 1929 the Magic Lantern was quite a novelty.

Figure 3. This is the actual Lantern (sometimes referred to as a Magic Lantern) used by Seth & Bessie Sykes in support of their evangelistic efforts.

I obtained these pictures from Mr. Chris Bugby located in Saltburn by the Sea, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Mr Bugby had contacted me regarding my previous article on Seth and Bessie Sykes. He found my article using an internet search engine. It seems that Mr. Bugby had acquired the magic lantern (see Figure 3.) used by Seth and Bessie at an auction in Yorkshire. Mr. Bugby related that he was doing research on the background of the magic lantern and the Sykes ministry in order to help preserve the history of the lantern and the story behind their ministry. The lantern was used by the Sykes to show slides during their religious services to enhance audience understanding and promote interest in the meetings. Use of the Magic Lantern was rather unique for that time and served as an additional draw to encourage folks to attend the special religious meetings conducted by the Sykes.

With Mr. Bugby’s permission, here’s the message exchange between us regarding the Magic Lantern:

Submitted on 2012/06/22 at 9:06 am
Hello Jim. I am just doing a bit of research on an evangelist couple called Seth and Bessie Sykes and your page popped up. The reason for this is that I appear to have unearthed their magic lantern and slides in a little provincial auction in Yorkshire in the UK. Although I am selling it (as I deal in this sort of thing from time to time) I thought you might be interested in seeing it. Its fascinating!! Best Regards
Chris Bugby
Submitted on 2012/06/22 at 1:57 pm | In reply to Chris Bugby.
Thanks for your comments Chris. I am delighted that you would take the time to correspond with me on the post about Seth and Bessie Sykes. I am fascinated by some of the photos and wonder if you have any way to identify some of the people in the pictures. I think the one with the singular man in the photo might be Seth Sykes. I wonder if the family photo is the Sykes family? Does the magic lantern still work? Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Of all of the articles I have written this particular one (Thank You Lord for Saving my Soul) is the one most often visited by thousands of folks.
Kind regards, Jim Davenport
Morning Jim! Thanks for getting back to me. Yes its quiet fascinating! I don’t have any way of finding out who are in the family pictures as of yet although I have mailed a few people. around the Springburn area and hopefully we will see. I was told that the lantern and slides resided in the Springburn museum until it closed a number of years so how it all ended up here who knows. The lantern looks complete but would take some renovation as the controls are all solid. I do have the facilities to work on this but I think I would rather leave it as is for now!. I am going to at least try to photograph each slide individually and make them available as a zip for anyone that wants them , just so if it slips back into obscurity when its sold, so the history is there. I’ll let you know when I have done this.
Submitted on 2012/06/23 at 8:05 am | In reply to Chris Bugby.
Thanks so much Chris. Do I have your permission to use some of the pictures in a follow-up article I will be writing on the subject? This would further the historic value of the information. Jim D.
Submitted on 2012/06/23 at 8:07 am
Yes of course! They are quiet hard to photograph but I will do my best!!

Mr. Bugby has offered the Magic Lantern for sale on eBay. Along with his description of the lantern he provided a number of pictures of the lantern and some of the slides. With his permission, I am including some of those pictures in my article. If you can help identify any of the people in these pictures please enter your comment below or contact me at this email address:

Figure 4. Four photos from acquired by Mr. Bugby along with the Sykes’ Magic Lantern.

I believe that the pictures in Figure 4. are four separate images of the Sykes family and some of their friends … but that has not been verified. Notice the bus-like vehicle in the background in the upper-right photo, perfect for a traveling evangelist team. The little girl in the bottom right photo is thought to be Seth and Bessie’s daughter Eva (Eva Sykes Campbell currently living in Bishopbriggs, UK) . I believe Eva can also be seen in the upper right photo. The Sykes also had a son, Seth, and he is named after his father. Seth, Jr. is now a doctor and pharmacist in England (according to this link). I believe Seth, Jr. can be seen in the upper left Christmas photo. These photos were part of the Lantern purchase by Mr. Bugby.

The Sykes wrote a number of songs/hymns to use in their services. Seth wrote the lyrics and Bessie usually wrote the music. Many of these songs/hymns were published in an evangelists song book, “Songs of Salvation” also known as the S.O.S. songbook, the cover of which can be seen in Figure 5. The S.O.S. songbook is dated to 1930 by Mr. & Mrs. Seth Sykes, 363 Springburn Road, Glascow. I do not know if the Sykes wrote all of the hymns, but I tend to doubt it as some of the slides they used show music written by others (see below). Also included in Figure 5. is what I believe to be a one-page resume used by the Sykes to explain their background and promote their services with potential hosts.

Figure 5. Left: SOS Songs of Salvation – Song Book by Seth and Bessie Sykes; “A choice collection of Original Songs and Choruses for Evangelistic Meetings, Solo Singers, Choirs, and the Home by Mr. and Mrs. Seth Sykes, Scottish Evangelists, Authors and Composers of “Running Over”‘ “Love Wonderful Love”, “Listening Is”, etc. – Right: One page resume with the title: The Gospel in Word and Song, Also Electric (see note at the end of this article)** Lantern. Some of the qualifications listed: Evangelists, Authors, Musicians , Composers. In the rectangular box at the top of the page: Christ for All, All for Christ, The Word of God; Undenominational but Fundamental. “We are not affiliated with any {unknown} or {unknown} but entirely dependent upon the Lord for our support.” Lower left corner at the bottom: “Highly recommended by the leading Evangelical Organizations.”

In my research I found an additional song written by Seth Sykes. In this case the music was not written by Bessie, but by H. G. Hunter.

Running Over, Running Over

Music by H. G. Hunter, Lyrics by Seth Sykes

Running over, running over,
My cup’s fill’d and running over,
Since the Lord saved me, I’m as happy as can be,
My cup’s fill’d and running over.

Telling others, telling others,
My life’s work is telling others,
Since the Lord lives in me, I’m as happy as can be,
My life’s work is telling others.

To sing along with this hymn use this link “Running Over, Running Over”

Figure 6. shows some of the music projected by the Magic Lantern used in the evangelistic services conducted by the Sykes. Note in particular the song on the top right … “I Have The Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down In My Heart.” If you know about “Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul”, then I would be surprised if you don’t recognize this song. I can’t attribute it to the Sykes, but we can say with some certainty that they used it in their services. When I was just a toddler living in Richmond, Virginia, USA in the 1940’s I can remember singing this little song at the Sunset Hills Baptist Church. The song was somewhat of a tongue twister and all of the children loved it … especially the line that starts out “I’ve got the peace that passeth understanding …” (try to say that fast several times in a row without getting tongue-tied!)

Figure 6. Magic Lantern – Images of Music; presumed to be used in the evangelistic services conducted by Seth and Bessie Sykes.

All accounts indicate that many, many people were saved and/or blessed under the ministry of Seth and Bessie Sykes and remember those days fondly. Below are a couple of testimonies in their own words that I located in the public domain of the internet at this link.

Ruth Millar
22nd Oct 2007, 07:57pm
I am remember the Sykes very well. I lived in Guernsey Channel islands and I remember them coming twice in 1935 and 1937. I am now 76 years old and can still hear Mrs Bessie Sykes powerful voice singing “There were Ninety-and-nine” and “[The Land where the Roses never fade”. Both my parents and some of their friends were saved under their ministry in 1935, and I was saved in 1937. They were wonderful days with we little ones singing “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful love” also “Thank You Lord for Saving my Soul” The Lantern Slides which they showed as Bessie sang were very real and moving.
2nd Feb 2009, 01:20pm
Hi Heather,
I have just discovered your correspondence by email. I was born in Springburn, and lived up the same ‘close’ as Molly Weir’s mother. We knew Mrs Weir quite well, and she was so proud of her daughter, Molly. I also played in Paddy’s Park and jumped the ‘midins’ – For many years I was a Gospel singer and was a member of the Garngad Foundry Boys, where my father was treasurer for 40 years (William Robertson). At seveteen I joined the Springburn Gospel Hall. I sang many of Seth and Bessie Sykes songs, and listened to some of her lantern talks, sorry I can’t remember any of them now. They were a most remarkable couple, and have left a legacy of Christian music.

I found a couple of the Magic Lantern slides in Mr. Bugby’s possession to be very interesting and even somewhat humorous. Figure 7. shows a picture of Seth along with the following wording hand written on the slide: “Sunshine Corner – The Place for Your Family and Friends. Why Not Bring Them? I want to meet you and your husband at our meetings.” It appears from this slide that Seth and Bessie realized that a lot of the women attending their sessions would be the ones that could compel their husbands to attend when they would rather be somewhere else. Have times really changed that much?

Figure 8., the SILENCE slide, is a rather straightforward way to say “It is time for us to start the service, please quiet down and pay attention!” I like that. It wouldn’t hurt to use such slides in a lot of our modern churches today.

Figure 7. Hand written on the lantern slide: “Sunshine Corner – The Place for Your Family and Friends. Why Not Bring Them? I want to meet you and your husband at our meetings.” Need verification that this is Seth Sykes, but there is no reason to think otherwise as this slide was included with the Lantern purchased by Mr. Bugby.

Figure 8. Silence slide.

Finally, in doing research I ran across a blogger, Mark Thompson, who is interested in Scottish history and in particular history related to evangelists from Scotland. You can read Mark’s blog on Seth and Bessie Sykes at this link.

Your comments and contributions to the collective knowledge about Seth and Bessie Sykes are most welcome. Please use the comment section below to communicate with me.

** Note: In additional recent correspondence with Mr. Bugby I learned that the Magic Lantern in his possession was likely powered by acetylene and not by electricity. Some of my research referred to the Lantern used by the Sykes as an “Electric Lantern”. The One-Page Resume of the Sykes qualifications shown in my article uses the term “Electric Lantern” to describe the lantern in use at that time. As Mr. Bugby suggests, I suppose that over time the acetylene version of the Magic Lantern could have been replaced with an electric lantern. The lantern shown in this article is definitely not electric. I will have to get back to this and resolve it at a future date.

Other Related Articles By Jim Davenport:

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About jimdavenport

Jim Davenport resides in the USA in Northeast Georgia, is a member of a Southern Baptist Church and is a retired Christian business man. Jim and his wife Charlotte have one son and daughter in law, Keven and Amy, three grandchildren - Ashlyn (Davenport) & Josh Murphy, and Mason Davenport. We have two great-grandchildren, Rhory Camile Murphy and Sawyer Joshua Murphy. Jim and Charlotte own a mountain get-away home located on Lookout Mountain in Alabama where they spend many spring, summer and fall days working in their raised bed organic garden. Jim has served as a Deacon and Trustee in his local church most of his adult life and on the Executive Committee and Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees of Shorter University, an intentionally Christian institution located in Rome, Georgia. Jim has a passion for the word of God and has always believed that Christian principles should guide every aspect of his life. He also loves Christian music and often served as a tenor soloist in his church. One of the highlights of his life was the nearly 20 years he spent singing with The Good News, a Southern Gospel quartet. Jim served as an Information Technology professional his entire working career of 50 years holding senior positions in and consulting with hundreds of world-class organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand. Jim remains as President and CEO of InfoSys Solutions Associates, Inc. and is a retired partner of IT Governance Partners, LLC, both of which are “Trusted Advisor” technology and business consulting firms. Jim has authored a number of books available at His blog is regularly read by readers from more than 120 countries. Jim holds both a BS and an MS in Mathematics from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia and completed Management Development Training at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
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21 Responses to Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul – Update

  1. Eva Campbell says:

    Hi Jim. I am Seth & Bessie Sykes’ daughter, Eva or Evangeline. I am about to do a presentation about my parents in Guernsey, Channel Islands and came across your blog. Some of what you say is very interesting and encouraging and I would like to use one of the comments in my talk but some of the information you have is inaccurate – especially the pictures. The photo you have of a tramway worker is not my Dad and the other so-called family pictures are not of our family. The lantern shown is a very old model and not at all like the one my parents used. I’m sorry if this sounds critical but there has been so much said about my parents which is just not true – for instance that my mother played a barrel organ. She played a small folding pedal-organ similar to the one Sankey used but smaller and she was a very talented musician. I would be happy to answer any questions if you contact me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jimdavenport says:

      Thank you Mrs Campbell, I regret the errors in my article. I will most assuredly correct them in my post. I greatly admire the work of your parents and want to properly represent their ministry. At one point I was in touch with grandson Scott Sykes. We corresponded for some time and as my health continued to fail I let that contact slide. I wrote a follow up article which likely also contains misinformation. As My health has improved lately I would like to correct my posts and would appreciate your help in doing so. My email address is I would appreciate receiving your email in return.


    • jimdavenport says:

      Trying again to contact you …. here’s a corrected version of my previous reply …

      Thank you Mrs Campbell, I regret the errors in my article. I will most assuredly correct them in my post. I greatly admire the work of your parents and want to properly represent their ministry. At one point I was in touch with grandson Scott Sykes. We corresponded for some time and as my health continued to fail I let that contact slide. I wrote a follow up article which likely also contains misinformation. As My health has improved lately I would like to correct my posts and would appreciate your help in doing so. My email address is I would appreciate receiving your email in return.


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  11. Betty Cohen says:

    Hello Jim. My 98 year old mother is Bessie’s cousin. My mother is now in a care home but remembers Bessie and Seth and used to go to the Bethany Hall in Glasgow to see them. Bessie’s brother Alex was a writer of poetry I don’t know if he had any published, a very talented family.


    • jimdavenport says:

      Betty, it is so good to hear this information. I am compiling information about the family that will be in an article I have been working on for quite some time. The article has been delayed several times due to personal family issues but I hope to return to it soon. Yes indeed, you are part of a very talented family … One that has blessed so many throughout the world! Jim


  12. I really consider this particular blog , “Thank You Lord for Saving
    My Soul – Update | jimdavenport”, truly entertaining and the
    post was in fact a fantastic read. Regards-Charlene


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  14. Lynn Spier says:

    “Thank you Lord for saving my soul” has a special place in my memory also. I remember singing it when I was a youth back in the 50’s. It seems to keep popping up from time to time when I am experiencing a special time with the Lord. I remember back in the 60’s when I was in my 20’s on a ski lift high about the Colorado mountains. I felt God’s presence so much and just started singing that song. It happens again and again. Just this past week, I took a day of solitude, and was walking along the beach on the Central Coast of California, and this song came to my mind again. I just started singing it and it continues being such a blessing in my life. I thank the Lord for this song, and more importantly for saving my soul. Lynn


  15. bwebbjr says:

    Very interesting post Jim … you have obviously done a great deal of research in preparing this. Thanks for sharing the stories behind the songs and the saints. I also love hearing how your blog has helped you connect with other believers around the world.

    Keep on sharing the Good News brother!



    • jimdavenport says:

      Thanks for reading, Bernie. This song in particular brings back a lot of wonderful memories … especially of my younger life. God continues to use this particular post to reach thousands around the world. Recently I looked at the stats for readers and found that in 2012 folks from 75 countries have read my articles. I have a passion to be Biblically accurate and historically accurate with my writing. I thank you for your encouragement. Keep up your wonderful writing. Jim D.


  16. jimdavenport says:

    This message was received via email and I am including it in the comments to preserve it for the future.

    July 16, 2012
    Dear Jim, I too, love that hymn–brings VH baptist to my mind’s eye: the overhead fans turning, people also using cardboard fans with funeral home advertising on the back, and the sounds of insects coming through the windows, and Mother, Paul Burnett, and Uncle Chester singing! Wonderful, wonderful memories–there was a timelessness to the summer days and nights. I told someone once that if you didn’t grow up in the south/small towns on Sunday afternoons, you could not be in a discussion on boredom/nothing to do! I wanted to tell you I talked to Katherine yesterday, and she said that if you’re in Mentone this coming Sunday, they could stop and see you in Mentone–it would be afternoon, I imagine. Aunt Mozelle is very weak, not sleeping all that well, etc. Almost 25 people came by to see her this past Saturday –so sweet to show her that she and U. Frank are still loved and remembered–KP phone # is xxx-xx-xxxx —hope it works for all concerned–Much love, MJ


  17. helen adams says:

    Thanks Jim, What a great article. I some of these songs as a youth myself.


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