Bill Gaither longed to serve the Lord in full-time music ministry, but when he graduated from college the doors didn’t open. Instead he found a job teaching English. In 1962 he married Gloria Sickal, a fellow teacher (Bill taught English, and Gloria taught both English and French). Their evenings and weekends were spent collaborating on songs. One of them would make a comment like “There ought to be a song that says…,” and they would write a song on that topic, crank it out on an old mimeograph machine, and hand the copies out at Wednesday night choir rehearsal.
During those days Dr. Dale Oldham was a beloved preacher in the area. His son, Doug Oldham, a gifted musician, helped his father in his meetings. When Doug’s life fell apart, he started attending the same church the Gaithers attended. Doug had lost his family and fallen into a depression so deep he had contemplated killing himself. Realizing that he had brought all his troubles upon himself, he began reaching out to the Lord for help. Little by little, he traded his bad habits for holiness and healing. He was able to put his life–and his family–back together.
Eventually Doug began helping his father again, providing music when Dr. Dale preached. One Saturday night in 1963, as Bill, Doug, and Dale returned home from an evangelistic service they talked about how wonderfully the Lord can touch and heal a person’s life. Dr. Dale looked over at Bill and said, “Bill there’s something special about that word touch. You ought to write a song about how God touches lives.”
By the next morning, Bill had scrawled out the lyrics to two verses and the chorus and had composed a simple melody. The following Tuesday before another of Dr. Dale’s revival services, Bill handed Doug a copy of the handwritten song and said, “Let’s see if we can sing this one tonight.”
Doug became the first to record the song in 1964, and soon it was being recorded by the greatest names in the music industry (including Elvis Presley), and congregations around the world are still testifying through song: “…the hand of Jesus touched me, and now I am no longer the same.”
From “Then Sings My Soul: The Story Of Our Songs”, Book 3, by Robert J. Morgan