Behind the Story: He Touched Me
He Touched Me was the song that propelled Bill Gaither onto the national stage.
Gaither had been writing songs for years, but nothing struck the chord with the American public the way He Touched Me did. Gaither stated in an interview that he began writing in “1960” and this was “my fifty-fourth song.”
Gaither was accompanying an “old preacher friend” Dr. Dale Oldham on various crusades. He recalled: “He was a very eloquent speaker. One night after one of those meetings, Dr. Oldham said to me, ‘Bill, the word “touch” is a very popular word. It comes up so often in the New Testament stories about Jesus touching people’s eyes and healing them, or touching people’s lives and changing them. It’s a special, spiritual word and you ought to write a song that praises His touch.’ So I did.”
After the meeting, Gaither, Dr. Oldham and Doug were driving back to Gaither’s home in Anderson, Indiana. The conversation turned to how deeply the Spirit of God was felt during the crusade meetings. Gaither was unable to sleep that night. He could not get the last words the minister said to him when he dropped him off that night out of his mind. The minister said ‘You should write a song that says, ‘He touched me’ oh, He touched me.”
Gaither’s mind mulled over the revival meeting and the heavy laden faces he’d seen in the crowd. He thought about how the meeting transformed them to looks of hope and joy by the end of the meeting.
The next morning, Gaither’s wife, Gloria, awoke to find him still working on the song.
Dr. Oldham’s son, Doug, recorded He Touched Me in 1964. Gaither recalled: “Doug sang it around in church circles, but I think it really started to get popular as people would take it back to their own congregations and sing it as a chorus. Its funny, you write 53 songs and then you write one little baby, and even though it comes out of the womb the same way they all did, this baby just all of a sudden goes BOOM!”
The Gaither Trio recorded the song in later 1964.
Elvis Presley recorded the song in 1971. After releasing the song as a single, he released the album ‘He Touched Me’ in 1972. He received a Grammy Award for this album and was named the Best Inspirational Performance for 1972.