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GOD & TEXAS: Cowboy roundup songs


"After milking the cows, I have to unwind my hands to play the piano." These are the words of Oscar Julius Fox who was born on a ranch in Burnet County, Texas, in 1879. His German grandparents immigrated to Texas in 1845, settling near what is now Marble Falls. His grandfather Adolph Fuchs was a Lutheran pastor, singer, musician, and composer. “Fox” is the Americanized version of the German name “Fuchs.”

After the death of his mother, Oscar lived with his uncle Hermann Fuchs and his musical family. The family recounts that Oscar learned to play the piano before he knew the alphabet! He loved the outdoors, and was faithful to his chores, which included milking the cows. Oscar rode the range at roundup and grew to admire the lore and music of the Texas cowboy. No doubt these early experiences influenced his musical compositions in later life.

Oscar attended high school in San Antonio where he excelled in violin and piano. Later, he studied music in Switzerland and New York before returning to Texas to teach. Some of his many students included relatives of future president Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1902, Oscar married Nellie Tuttle, and together they had three daughters. A dedicated Christian, Oscar served as choir director and organist for various Texas churches.

However, he achieved national notoriety through the cowboy-themed songs he and his friend John A. Lomax collected and composed. You will see Oscar’s name on such well-known songs as “The Old Chisolm Trail,” “The Cowboy's Lament,” and “Old Paint.” Western movie actor Tex Ritter featured many of Fox’s songs in his films including "Whoopee Ti Yi Yo, Git Along, Little Dogies."

The musical composition that was Oscar’s personal favorite was “The Hills of Home.” The lyrics were written by Floride Calhoun when she lived in San Antonio, with Oscar adding words and music to complete the score. “The Hills of Home” has been recorded by varied artists including Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert Merrill, tenor James Melton, Nelson Eddy, and Mario Lanza. A granite marker stands in Marble Falls honoring Oscar J. Fox and his immense musical accomplishments.

Many of Oscar’s cowboy hymns were recorded by western movie stars like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Possibly his greatest hymn of testimony is his cowboy spiritual about the Second Coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) entitled “Rounded Up In Glory.” Some of the lyrics are:

As we ride across the plains, with the cowboys that have fame,

And the storms and light flashing by your side;

There we’ll meet to part no more, upon that Golden Shore,

When He rounds us up in glory bye and bye.

Chorus:

We’ll be rounded up in glory, we’ll be rounded up in glory,

We’ll be rounded up in glory bye and bye. When the millin’ time is o’er, and we will stampede no more,

When He rounds us up in glory!

Thank you, Oscar, for reminding us that Christ is Coming soon!

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