Book One Stories

Stories behind the songs in Echoes Of Triumph Book One

The Story of 'Our Heavenward Flight', Song # 16

"Our Heavenward Flight" was written in memory of the five Janzen children who went to be with the Lord on January 13, 1979, as the result of a house fire in Dorking, Ontario.

The parents, Peter and Elizabeth Janzen, originally from Mexico, had been in Canada for several years, and had a family of 8 children. Peter was back in Mexico at the time of the fire, which occured on a Saturday night. Elizabeth and the children had some special memories of that last day together. They had gone to town that morning. Jacob, who was eight, loved to sing, and sang heartily all the way to town and back. One of his favourites which he sang over and over that morning was "O Come Angel Band..... come and around me stand.. O bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal Home.." The angels surely heard him sing, as that night they carried Jacob to his Heavenly Home.

On Saturday afternoon, the five oldest children spent the afternoon at the home of their school friends, in the Ernie Wideman home. Ernie's wife, Salema, remembers helping Jacob and Abraham to tie up their skates. It was her last act of kindness for Abraham, Jacob and Tina.

On Saturday night, during the night, the fire broke out. They were all sleeping upstairs. The mother threw three year old Rosy out the window, and jumped out herself. Landing in a snow bank, it broke both her legs. Neighbours came with ladders and rescued Mary and Lisa, ages 13 and 12, but the five other children perished; Abraham, age 10; Jacob, age 8; Tina, age 6; Linda, age 5; and Eva, age 4.

The mother was in the hospital for three months. The three girls who survived, Mary, Lisa and Rosy were cared for in the home of Ernie and Salema Wideman for those three months.

It was a sad day in that community. That afternoon, only a few miles from where the fire broke out, a young farmer had been killed when his tractor rolled over on the slippery barn hill. Mahlon Martin, a member of the Old Order Mennonite Church, left behind a grieving wife and children. I still remember how sad we all felt in Church on Sunday morning.

The house fire deeply touched the home of Ibra and Lena Martin. Their son, Leon, had lost his best friend, Jacob. Lena took her little boy onto her knee, and tried to put a Heavenly twist to a painful reality. In an attempt to lift the spirits of her son and the other school children, she wrote her first poem, entitled, "Our Heavenward Flight." The raw details were very scarry for the children to face, so Lena wanted the children to be encouraged to remember that their friends were in Heaven with the Lord. Lena gave me the poem and asked me to put it to music. The song has become a favorite of many children.

The song, which includes the names of the five children who died, was used again in another tragedy, when three beautiful little girls; Karla Jane, age 6; Darlene, age 4 and Anne, age2 died of suffocation in a cedar chest on August 5, 2002, in Missouri.

Contact Elizabeth Drudge at 519-291-2819 to order "Echoes Of Triumph #1" It contains 34 songs, written in shaped notes, with four part harmony.


Only One Step, Song #9

"Only One Step " is a thought taken from the Bible verse in 1 Samuel 20 : 3 "There is but a step between me and death." Lena had been working on a poem with this theme, but felt unhappy about her progress with it, so she laid it away. That afternoon, there was a traffic accident in front of their farm, and a car landed in their front yard. A young man was killed. Lena got her poem back out and finished it up.

Contact Elizabeth Drudge at 519-291-2819 to order "Echoes Of Triumph #1" It contains 34 songs, written in shaped notes, with four part harmony.

'The Baler Songs' - Anchoured, #12 & 'Home Blessed Home' #24

As Lena gave me more poems to set to music, I often worked on composing the new tunes as I went about my daily work. One summer day, as we were working at the harvest here on the farm, I was driving the tractor and baler, but my mind was on my songs. John was on the wagon, loading the bales as they came out of the bale chamber.

As I drove up and down the rows of barley straw, I was concentrating on the music for two songs. But John noticed that I didn't always drive straight, and seemed distracted. Finally he called to me, "Are you writing a new song?" I admitted I was, and we had a good laugh together, and I tried to drive more careful after that.

The two songs were "Home Blessed Home" and "Anchored", which our friends still call the "baler songs!" They claim you can hear the beat of the baler plunger in the songs!

Contact Elizabeth Drudge at 519-291-2819 to order "Echoes Of Triumph #1" It contains 34 songs, written in shaped notes, with four part harmony.

The Pillow of the Sea, Song #30

"The Pillow Of The Sea." We are told that there is a place in the ocean that is called the "Cushion of the sea." This is a place, far down beneath the surface, where the storms and the winds are not able to reach. There the sea is never stirred, and life continues there in its even pace throughout the ages. The peace of God is that eternal calm which lies deep in the soul. The peace of Christ can be deep enough and real enough in our hearts, that it is not disturbed by the storms of life around us.