PASS IT ON                                                                                       written in 1969

The Story

If you are a baby boomer, raised in the church, and born in the late 1940s or 1950s, you probably grew up singing Kurt Kaiser’s “Pass It On” around a campfire or at youth group meetings.

Kurt Frederic Kaiser (1934- ) was born in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in a Plymouth Brethren home, and was recognized as a skilled pianist from his early years. He received his musical education from the American Conservatory of Music and Northwestern University, and joined Word, Inc., in 1959 as director of artists and repertoire… later becoming vice president and director of music for Word. In the early 1960s, when he was still in his 20s, he arranged music for many of the biggest recording artists in his day. Kurt maintained his relationship with Word, Inc. until 1989.

He has composed more than sixty hymn texts and tunes, the most famous of which are “O How He Loves You and Me” (1975), and “Pass It On.”

Kurt came on the scene at just the right time for his musical style… in the middle of the Jesus Movement/revival of the early 1970s.

In 1969, Ralph Carmichael and Kurt collaborated on a musical, Tell It Like It Is. The late 1960s and 1970s were the heyday of the Christian youth musical. The musical, Tell It Like It Is, was written to get young people involved in the Church.

After reviewing what they had written, they decided there needed to be a closer, a modern ‘Just As I Am’ (a hymn by Charlotte Elliott written in 1835, and a favorite of Evangelicals for altar calls).

On a Sunday night after church, Kurt was sitting in his den by the fireplace where there were remnants of a fire, and it occurred to him it only takes a spark to get a fire going… and the rest came very quickly. It only took about 20 minutes to write the lyrics.

This song reflects the power of a simple idea set to a singable tune… and this song became the banner song of the Jesus Movement.

“Pass It On” was initially sung only by young people and teens, but it gained traction in broader congregational circles when it appeared in Hymns for the Living Church (1974).

Kurt’s greatest thrill came when he saw 100,000 people at the Cotton Bowl singing this song. Kurt remembers that night: “They were lighting candles off one another and the whole place was singing… ‘It only takes a spark to get a fire going’”.

He and his wife, Pat, reside in Waco, Texas. They have four grown children and ten grandchildren. Kurt Kaiser is an active churchman, serving as “a founding member and Deacon in the Seventh and James Baptist Church at Waco.”

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – obey the Great Commission by sharing the gospel with someone else… “Pass It On”.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,

and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing.

That’s how it is with God’s love; once you’ve experienced it

you spread His love to everyone.  You want to pass it on

 

What a wondrous time is spring when all the trees are budding;

the birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming.

That’s how it is with God’s love; once you’ve experienced it

you want to sing, it’s fresh like spring.  You want to pass it on.

 

I wish for you, my friend, this happiness that I’ve found;

you can depend on Him… it matters not where you’re bound.

I’ll shout it from the mountain top – Praise God!  I want the world to know

the Lord of love has come to me.  I want to pass it on.

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