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How Did It All Begin?

We did not know what we were starting when we launched our P.S.A.L.M.
web site to an unsuspecting world on Christmas Eve 1997.
Three weeks before we had known nothing at all about web site design.
But we discovered an Australian program called "Hot Dog" - and a
large green dog took me in hand and taught me a lot in a very short time!

The idea was that the web site would be somewhere to publish our original
worship songs, of which there were just six when the site started.
Visitors could listen to and download the midis, the words and the scores.
And that was an idea we liked for we wanted the songs to be used to praise
the Lord!

People seemed to like the format and all the time I was learning about such
things as adding a guest book, a mailing list, a counter; submitting the site
to Christian directories (and ones like Yahoo!), joining webrings and finding
sites where free Christian graphics abounded. Meanwhile John was arranging
music for other composers in the USA - and seeing that P.S.A.L.M.'s songs
were registered with CCLI.

The next stage was to add some of the P.S.A.L.M. 'words' - and so
the Poems 'n' Prose section began, to be followed by Seasons of Celebration
and Kids' Corner. Not long after that we received an e-mail arrived from a
13-year-old in Georgia asking 'just when would a Teen Page appear?'
And while we were thinking about what we would put on such
a web page, there was another e-mail - 'I've told all my friends you'll be starting a Teen page -
and here is a graphic to put on it!
It is amazing how two grandparents can write a worship song to Heavy Metal
when it seems appropriate!

At the last count, the songs number 49 and there are close on 500 pages
in the site. The site graphics were completely re-done by two graphics
artists - Sharon and Pattie - and our midis were available to be used by them
(and others!) as background music. John has become quite used
to making "special" midis for friends or small sized files for people who were
looking for these.

In September 1998, we decided to see if we could put the entire P.S.A.L.M.
Christmas programme, "Simply Christmas", on the site - presenter pieces,
readings and carols. The programme takes just over an hour to perform and
we were sure that no-one would ever work their way right through it -
but the first two e-mails told how the writers had done just that!

Last January, I wrote the first of what is now a very popular series of
short stories -"I'll Never Forget That Day" - biblical events seen from a
slightly different angle. Then a request arrived from an Internet radio station
to send a tape of me telling some of the stories. That set us thinking about
the possibility of putting some of the stories out in RealAudio. Which meant
getting another site with a server who could handle the RealAudioG2 files -
and in the first week of May P.S.A.L.M. - SOUND came in to being.
Now visitors can visit any of the story pages and, by clicking a button,
listen to me reading it - from a file housed in Seattle! And some of
our songs can be heard now too - sung by Judy from Oklahoma.
We have never met - but one song has words written by myself and Larry
in Tennessee - to a tune by Elton in Texas - and sung by Judy!
"Simply Christmas" also appears in an updated form - with Real Audio files
of the words.

We have no way of explaining how the success of our site came about -
we were looking for a way to spread the Good News of the Gospel a little
further, in what we hoped was a simple and direct way. Each step, each
development seemed to follow naturally.
In the last week, we have learnt how to add pretty little cursors (from an
8th grader in Florida!) and are beginning to see how Dynamic HTML works.

Meanwhile, the counter keeps on clicking upwards,and the awards keep on
coming in. But what thrills us most is when an entry appears in the
guest book which reads

"I am not a Christian, but I have felt so at home here and I will be back"

- or when a teenager takes the trouble to write an e-mail that just says

"Cool site!"

So, how did it all begin and where will it all end, we wonder?

Just in case you are wondering about our background we never had any
intention of writing songs or stories until two years ago. John, despite being
a church organist for over 50 years, had never composed a single tune but
he could also play keyboard, piano and spinet. I have always been a
storyteller - but had never written anything down! I had played violin in an
orchestra and that comes in handy when arranging and/or orchestrating our
songs. Also, when John comes up with a tune, he has a tame lyricist to hand -
so I suppose you could say that our skills are complimentary!
And I only wrote the above "history" because I was asked to do so by a
Scottish Christian Directory so that others might be encouraged to try
and build a web site too!

Copyright (c) Elizabeth Tolson
8th January 2000

"And David danced before the Lord with all his might..."
2 Samuel 6 v.14

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