Inspiring and comforting, as expressions of praise, faith, assurance, and courage, hymns have been part of author Betty Casarez’s life since her birth in 1924. One of her earliest memories is from age four, when she sang, “I have that joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart” with other children at a church in Texas. Her autobiography will take you back to her early years in west Texas; moving to live in San Antonio during the Depression and World War II, recalling songs many of us learned in childhood: “The B-I-B-L-E,” “Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World,” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Casarez went to nursing school and to seminary, working in a Mexican Baptist mission in Fort Worth where she even learned to appreciate some favorite hymns translated into Spanish.
Some hymns are associated with specific periods in her life, and some are simply longtime favorites. When Casarez’s grandfather experienced episodes of agitation in the weeks before his death, she was able to soothe him by singing hymns. She learned “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” from her oldest daughter, Jamie, who sang it often during the years she had brain cancer.
Casarez’s story calls up memories of bygone days, from wartime rationing to familiar hymns such as “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “Just As I Am.” This is the story her life and its soundtrack—with music shared by so many throughout.
Betty Casarez earned degrees in nursing and religious education and worked as a nurse in Texas and Ohio. She has taught nursing and worked in hospital staff development in Elyria, Ohio, retiring in 1989. She has felt blessed by many hymns throughout her life.