The song was initially written in the 1870s, although there is some debate about the exact date. A man named Brewster M. Higley wrote a poem from a small cabin in Smith County, Kansas, near Beaver Creek. It was entitled “My Western Home” and published in the Smith County Pioneer (KS) newspaper. Through the years, the poem was edited and made into a song that we now know as “Home on the Range.” It is called a classic cowboy song and is considered the theme song of the American West.
Its words begin with a plea, “Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and antelope play …” The following words say, “Where never is heard a discouraging word.” Mr. Higley’s poem actually says, “Where never is heard a discouraging word.” Finally, the words “And the sky is not clouded all day.”
The writer is clearly taking artistic liberties with his picture. Obviously, some days have clouds, or there would be no rain, which is needed for life. But the idea of never hearing a discouraging word is equally unbelievable. So editors changed the lyrics to reflect a joyful yet honest hope for life. “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word” became the new version.
What a dream to be in a beautiful location with wildlife nearby, blue skies, and the people around you are not discouraging. Rarely is someone is trying to convince people what they are doing is wrong, prevent them from possible positive action, or say things to make other people lose confidence. What a wonderful place. It is no wonder that so many people love the idea of the American West.
I really wish someone would write a similar song for the Church. That the Church is a place where God’s grace overflows, children play, and seldom is heard a discouraging word. After all, the people who follow Jesus are called not to be discouraging but encouraging. They are not to rob each other of their enthusiasm for the faith; instead, they empower them for more remarkable ministry.
What would happen if the Church truly was a place “where seldom is heard a discouraging word?” I know people dream of such places because of the popularity of that song. A home like that is built not only by good intention but also by your words and mine.