Hallelujah! It’s a Saw!

Charles Calvin Mourer was an evangelist during the 1920s-40s. He was an itinerant preacher who traveled and preached extensively in the Midwest, especially through Ohio and Michigan. He played the trombone, the guitar and the musical saw, which, for some reason, he sometimes called the saw-phone. The saw was a popular instrument for small churches and traveling preachers because saws are inexpensive and can be a fine melody instrument if needed. He wrote many hymns and sold them through the mail for ten cents each. An article from the Warren Morning Mirror from January 21, 1928 had this to say about Reverend Mourer:

“Our revival campaign will open next Wednesday night January 25th at 7:30 with Evangelist Charles Mourer of Cincinnati Ohio, who will do the preaching and special singing. Those who heard Bro. Mourer when he was with us in last summer’s revival will want to hear him again. He is a spirit-filled man and preaches with power and unction and sings his own songs with guitar accompaniment and leads the congregational singing with the trombone and plays the saw-phone so sweetly that one might think they were listening to heavenly music. Do not fail to hear this man of God who is blessed with so many different talents and who labors so persistently and victoriously for the salvation of precious souls. He is no compromiser with sin and has no car signing plan but preaches the plain old Bible route to repentance and salvation. Services each evening at 7:30 and on Sunday at 11am and 7:30pm. The public is not only invited but urged to be present. COME.”

I have no idea what a “car signing plan” is, but Reverend Mourer sounds serious about saving souls. I haven’t found any recordings of him playing or preaching, but many of his hymns have been recorded. Here you can hear “The Little House on Hallelujah Street” by the Hamilton Sisters, and a great recording of “Preacher on the Fence” by the Christian and Missionary Alliance Gospel Singers, a marvelous gospel group that started out in the Midwest too, and ended up traveling the world. Reverend Mourer’s songs have been recorded many times by a wide variety of musicians, and his enthusiasm for writing hymns is a good thing for all of us still.


One of Reverend Mourer’s ten cent mail order hymns. Notice his saw.  


The Hamilton Sisters Sing “The Little House on Hallelujah Street”


The Christian and Missionary Alliance Gospel Singers


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Rowena Southard, your blog hostess, is a musical saw enthusiast who lives in California. She loves all kinds of music and has a special fondness for unusual instruments.