Good Friday Meditation–2019

Here’s the text from a Hank Williams sacred song called “How Can You Refuse Him Now?”

“As He hung there on the tree,
He prayed for you and me,
There was no one his pain to ease;
Before He died, He faintly cried,
Father, forgive them please.”

Williams, remembered as the most famous country singing star of the twentieth century, died  on January 1, 1953, at 29. Williams also had earned a reputation in the country music industry as an unreliable performer, a womanizer, and a man squandering his musical talent for a love affair with booze and drugs.

Born in Alabama, Williams grew up sitting beside his mother as she played the organ in a country church. Inevitably, once he’d learned to play guitar and sing, Williams wrote and sang country spiritual songs, notably, the most famous in his religious repertoire, “I Saw the Light.”

Williams, as did most country singers during his career, almost always included a spiritual song or gospel hymn near the end of his performances. Unlike many, however, Williams performed songs he had written (though some would say “had stolen”).

Whatever one’s attitude toward (Hiram) “Hank” Williams as an entertainer, his awareness of the scriptural account of Jesus at Calvary suggests God’s grace is greater than any country singer’s sin.


Here’s Williams’ complete lyrics to the song:

By Hank Williams Sr.

How can you refuse him now?
How can you refuse him now?
How can you turn away from his side?
With tears in his eyes, on the cross there he died.
How can you refuse Jesus now?.

There’s a story old, that has often been told,
Of how our savior died, as they nailed his hands,
He cried they don’t understand,
As the blood flowed from his side.


As he hung there on the tree, he prayed for you and me,
There was no one his pain to ease;
Before he died, he faintly cried,
Father forgive them please.


Lyrics: Hank Williams Sr. (1923-1953)
How Can You Refuse Him Now? lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

(Incidentally, in the version of the gospel story recorded in Luke 24:46-47, Jesus is said to cry out in a “loud” voice rather than Williams’ “faintly cried.” Also, another witness, the Roman centurion on duty at the foot of Jesus’ cross, like Williams, expresses a new believer’s understanding.)


Below is a YouTube posting of Hank Williams Sr. singing “How Can You Refuse Him Now?” If you leave this clip running you can access 30 of his spiritual song recordings.  (You’ll also get a feel for early radio broadcasting of country music.)

Hank Williams on YouTube



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