Keeping the Hymns Close By

It Is No Secret

Author & Composer – Carl Stuart Hamblen, 1908 – 1989
Hymn  written in 1950

Stuart Hamblen
Photo Courtesy of hymntime.com

Stuart Hamblen (born Carl Stuart Hamblen; October 20, 1908 – March 8, 1989) was born in Kellyville, TX. He was the son of James Henry Hamblen, an itinerant preacher. Stuart’s childhood was spent traveling throughout Texas due to his father’s ministry. In 1925 he enrolled at McMurry College (now McMurry University) in Abilene to study education and prepare for a career as a teacher. But country music quickly became his passion. In 1926, Hamblen began working at a radio station in Abilene and became one of radio’s first singing cowboys. Hamblen moved to Los Angeles where he was a popular cowboy singer on radio, recorded albums with several record labels and appeared in Western movies with Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and John Wayne.

Hamblen didn’t cope well with the pressures of a high-profile career and sought relief in alcohol. Many times his drinking landed him in jail for public brawling and other destructive behavior. It eventually began to affect his life and career.

In 1949, Billy Graham came to Los Angeles to host a crusade. Before the crusade began Bible teacher, Henrietta Mears, invited Billy to her home in Beverly Hills to speak to a group of Hollywood personalities. Stuart and his wife Suzy came to meet Billy. The two men took a liking to each other and Billy longed to win Stuart to Christ. But as the three week-campaign neared its end, there was no sign that the big cowboy was under conviction.

Sensing that momentum for the meetings was building, the local crusade organizers wanted to extend them, but Billy was hesitant. Billy prayed that God would show him in some way if the meetings should continue. The next morning at 4:30am, Billy received a phone call from Stuart and he was in tears. Billy woke his wife and friends, who gathered in another room to pray while Stuart and Suzy drove to the hotel. That night, Stuart prayed to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. It was the sign Billy needed to extend the services.

Used by permission from H. Allen Anderson

Stuart excitedly told the story of his conversion on his radio show, and the local papers picked up the story. Soon all of Los Angeles was talking about the Billy Graham meetings. The resulting publicity launched a half-century of mass evangelism virtually unparalleled in Christian history.

After his conversion, Stuart entered Christian broadcasting with his radio show, “The Cowboy Church of the Air” which ran until 1952. The program was revived again in 1971 and Hamblen returned to the radio airwaves until 1981.

In 1950 Stuart Hamblen reportedly met John Wayne on a street in Los Angeles. “What’s this I hear about you, Stuart?” asked the actor.
“Well, Duke, it’s no secret what God can do.”
“Sounds like a song,” said John. Stuart went home, sat down at his piano and wrote “It Is No Secret.” He went on to write 225 other songs before his death in 1989 from brain cancer including “This Ole House” (1954), and “Open Up Your Heart”(And Let the Sunshine In) (1955). Billy Graham gave the eulogy at Stuart’s funeral. In 1999 the town of Jefferson, TX, located near Hamblen’s birthplace of Kellyville, held a Stuart Hamblen Dedication to honor the songwriter.

Hamblen, Carl Stuart by H. Allen Anderson. Used by permission from the Texas State Historical Association and the Handbook of Texas.
Taken from Then Sings My Soul Keepsake Edition by Robert J. Morgan Copyright © 2011 Robert J. Morgan. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson