This is an old spiritual song of inspiration that my mother used to sing to me.  She also had an old scratchy recording of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing it.   This song and my mother’s example of selfless service to others was very formative for me.  Because of her example and constant encouragement to help other people, I have always sought to help people by volunteering at a homeless shelter, a suicide hotline, 211, nursing homes, the VA hospital and many other places.  I have even been in the right place at the right time to save the lives of seven people.  One was an eight year old by from drowning, a fifteen year old boy who fell from a cliff, an elderly blind woman about to walk out onto a busy highway, a diabetic man that I twice discovered him lapsed into a coma, a woman who was choking, catching a man who passed out and was about to fall and my mother herself on numerous occasions.  I also prevented two house fires, one in my own home as a teen and the other in the home of an elderly woman who forgot that she had food cooking on her stove. 

When my mother was in a morphine induced coma, I slept on the floor by her bed for about two weeks as I nursed her to new life.  It was both the most painful and beautiful thing I have ever done.  While she was in a coma, I played her Tennessee Ernie Ford record over and over for her.  Shortly after she died, in 2001, I penned this little arrangement of “Others” and I recently found it so, I thought I would upload it. 

In my mother’s final year she had no money and said that she wanted to go shopping so I offered to take her.  She said that she didn’t have any money so I gave her $20 (a lot in those days).  As we were driving for the mall, she told me to stop in a little thrift shop which served the poor.  She went inside and found this ugly multi-colored sweater which was marked for fifty cents.  She gave the $20 to the lady who ran the thrift shop and told her to keep the change.  She was always doing little things like that.  After she died I brought all my mom’s clothes to that thrift shop, including that sweater.  Upon telling my friend Carol that story, she drove an hour to that thrift shop and bought the sweater.  It was still fifty cents.

Now, to kill this otherwise wonderful tale, the thrift shop served a lot of poor and had done a lot of good work for several decades, but it was also always under fiscal duress itself.  All of the local churches supported it with special collections.  When the woman who ran it died, they discovered that she had three million dollars in her personal accounts.  Her children inherited it and kept it. 

To hear Ford singing it:
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for—Others.


Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.

Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true
And know that all I’d do for You
Must needs be done for—Others.


Let “Self” be crucified and slain
And buried deep: and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again,
Unless to live for—Others.


And when my work on earth is done,
And my new work in Heav’n’s begun,
May I forget the crown I’ve won,
While thinking still of—Others.


-Malcolm Kogut.


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