Clara (McAlister) Brooks was born October 9, 1882, in Parke County, Indiana. In 1907 she joined the Gospel Trumpet Family in Anderson, Indiana, where she quickly put her wonderful talents to good use. Concerning this, Kathleen D. Buehler writes, “Clara was a poet and her gift helped produce a songbook for the Church of God called Truth in Song. … A group of songwriters met to iron out the details and put together new songs for the book. They met in the music room owned by the Gospel Trumpet Company. Among those diligently working on the songs were A. L. Byers, C. E. Hunter, Clara McAlister (later Brooks), C. W. Naylor, D. O. Teasley, and Barney Warren.
“One day Barney Warren was visualizing the wonders and beauties of God’s world — the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, waterfalls, flowing rivers, open plains, mighty oceans, and starry heavens. He had a melody of song in mind. Warren shared this mind picture with Clara McAlister and sang his melody to her. She caught the vision immediately and said, ‘The music in that chorus seems to say, ‘What a mighty God we serve!’
“In a short time the song was finished and on its way into the new songbook, Truth in Song. In writing of the incident later, Warren said of Clara McAlister, ‘Her inspiration for writing the words of this hymn seemed to be at the peak.’
“Besides penning the words of some thirty-five new songs appearing in that volume, she worked in the editing and compiling process. In the introduction to Truth in Song is found this tribute:
“‘We are thankful for the advantage had with this book, of the competent assistance of Sister Clara McAlister and Brother C. W. Naylor, whose earnest and patient efforts in the way of criticism and revision have brought the words of these hymns to a degree of superior excellence.”
“Clara wrote other poetry not made into song. In fact, fourteen of her poems were included in a compilation called Treasures of Poetry, which the Gospel Trumpet Company published in 1913. Her poems also appeared from time to time in The Gospel Trumpet.
“In June 1909 Clara McAlister married Hiram A. Brooks, a minister from Canada. They served in several locations around the country as well as in Canada ….”
— Heavenly Song, by Kathleen D. Buehler (excerpted from pages 69 – 72).
I have always had a great admiration for those songs written by Clara M. Brooks. Who can but stand in awe of the beauty and grandeur of the words of such songs as “The Virtue of Faith” (Evening Light Songs #284) or “Thy Will Be Done” (Evening Light Songs #152)?
My mother had the privilege, before she was married, to be with a group who went and visited Clara M. Brooks when she was living in Springfield, Missouri, back in the 1950s.
Clara departed this life in Tampa, Florida, on March 20, 1980, at the age of 97 years. She is buried beside her husband, Hiram, in Myrtle Hill Memorial Park, Tampa, Florida. On her tombstone are inscribed the words of the song she helped Barney Warren write in 1907: “WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE.” Hiram departed this life in 1966 around the age of 91.