Happy 103rd, ATR, Jr.

My grandfather, Andy T. Ritchie, Jr., has been in the “land of the eternally living,” to quote Cecil Hook, for 28.5 years.  He would have been 103 today, so I am giving attention to his memory on this blog.

Granddaddy had impact on thousands of souls through the years — including students at Harding University (nee College), on people in churches far and wide when he preached and led worship in song, and on his own extended family.  He also extended his impact by authoring a book about worship:  Thou Shalt Worship the Lord Thy God.  It is from this book that the following words come (and I will probably share more such words in the coming weeks; these are merely representative for today).

Man respects God because he is Love more than for any other reason.  Author Bransnett is both clear and correct when he says, “God alone is worthy of man’s utmost allegiance and most devoted love, because God alone is love absolute and without qualification, love boundless, infinite and free.”  p. 20

The book has a fine conception and structure, with major sections on “The Meaning of Worship,” The Media of Worship,” and “Vitalizing Worship.”  Some of the chapter headings, i.e., on preaching and the offering collection, betray a breadth that upholds the mistaken notion that the assembly (or the “service”) equates to worship, but others are meaningful and even more apropos of the “worship” umbrella:

  • “The Object of Worship”
  • “The Objectives of Worship”
  • “The Inner Chamber and the Assembly of the Saints”
  • “The Relationship Between Worship and Life”
  • “Some Scriptural Criteria of Worship”

Also included under the heading “Worship Insights, Experiences, and Admonitions” are appendices written by each of the four children (my mother, aunt, and two uncles) and by five others.  Considered overall, the book is dated at this point, but its depth and its devotion to transcendent, well-founded worship is exemplary.  Although it is the only book my grandfather wrote per se, something tells me he would not have held it up as his crowning achievement in this life.  Rather, his legacy was, and is, the souls he ushered closer to the Lord through teaching and devoted personal evangelism, and through actual worship experiences.

Granddaddy closed the chapters in his book with rich, beautifully phrased prayers–one of the hallmarks of his words and of his life.

Eternal God, Creator of the universe,
Giver of my life, and Lover of my soul —
To see thee, even dimly, is to be dissatisfied with the littleness and meanness of myself and my fellow man;
And to see thee more is to desire more of thy holiness for myself,
That I may manifest agape toward my brother sinners;
And to see thee with clarity, for no more than a moment,
Is to know power and glory and victory.
Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Holy One, thou the loving Source,
“I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.”
Through Jesus Christ, the living Word.

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4 thoughts on “Happy 103rd, ATR, Jr.

  1. Sally Rogers Clark 04/25/2012 / 8:19 am

    Oh, how many memories came flooding over me as I read your words about Andy T. Ritchie. I first met him when I was in a freshman (1954) at Harding COLLEGE and was assigned to his freshman Bible class. The only thing I knew about him was that he had been director of the Harding Chorus; I had heard them sing when they came to Oklahoma City when I was in high school. As the years went by, I took every Bible class he taught and was impressed with his TOTAL Christian life. He was so consistent in every way. I went on several “campaigns” with him to the northeast (and one to Ola, AR) during my years at Harding. As the years went by, I always visited the Ritchies when I went back to Searcy. But one occasion especially stands out in my mind. It was 1983 when I went back to Harding for my 25th Homecoming. Bro. Andy was in the hospital, and several of us from that class (who had gone on campaigns with him) went to visit him. By then, he was totally blind, but he recognized us by our voices and called us by name! He died a few days later. I still have the letter which Joan wrote to all of us who had been in that room for one last visit.

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    • Brian Casey 04/27/2012 / 6:49 am

      Sally, thank you again for the affirming words. I’m honored that you’re reading … and grateful as you are to have been impacted by Andy T. Ritchie, Jr.

      I had probably not visited in the hospital as late as you did — I was a self-absorbed college student at the time — but I well remember receiving the news of his death. He had died at home, reportedly just after the words “Lord Jesus, be merciful” passed his lips.

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  2. Linda Covey Sterner 05/18/2013 / 7:57 pm

    Hi! Brian, I met Brother Ritchie, his son and daughter at Gander Brook Christian Camp in 1965. He baptized me there at the lake. I remember his sermons to this day, one that had such an impact on everyone at that assembly described so vividly what our Lord went through for us as He was hung on the Cross and Died for OUR SINS. I Loved your Grandparents very much. He wrote a poem that hangs in the lodge at Gander Brook to this day. What an amazing family you are Blessed to be in. What a Blessing it has been to have been Baptized into the Family of Christ and share the Blessing of having known Brother Andy T. Ritchie. Thank you for sharing. Linda Covey Sterner

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    • Brian Casey 05/20/2013 / 8:44 am

      Linda, I’m gratified to know of this memory with my grandfather. I visited the old Gander Brook site once but don’t believe I’ve been to the current one. Having had similar, high-impact memories at Camp Manatawny, I also hold dear the spiritually influential people from my own camp years. It’s good to know of the poem. I wonder if it might be “Lord, lay some soul upon my heart, and love that soul through me . . .” (I’m not sure those words are actually his, but my uncle Ed used them in a hymn written more than 20 years ago.) Thank you for taking the time to comment here, and on another post that mentions Granddaddy.

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