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Only Believe, Branham's Theme Song Written by Paul Rader

Seek The Truth Blog

Only Believe, Branham's Theme Song Written by Paul Rader:

In the "Message," the collective name for the many splinter groups in the cult following of William Branham, every single person is familiar with the song "Only Believe." It is a song that most cult churches sing during every single worship service. Those in the "tape service" sect -- the churches that still play William Branham's 1947-1965 recordings as their "sermon" -- typically sing this song immediately prior to pressing the "play" button on their selection of recordings from yesteryear.

It is so common for this song to be heard from behind cult doors that some have now claimed that this song was "written for Brother Branham." Song books in the pews are named after the song "Only Believe," and other cult propaganda often bears the same name.

"Only Believe" was the song William Branham chose to introduce him in his healing campaigns, and over time it became known as his "Theme Song." According to William Branham, he had never heard the song before 1950 when visiting the Fort Wayne Gospel Tabernacle. Branham claimed that an "angel" told him that "it" liked this song.

How many knows who wrote that song? Paul Rader. Oh, how... What a gallant soldier. I was acquainted with Brother Rader. I knew him. He belonged the Baptist church. Hear of his death when he died... I telephoned him not long ago...?... great warrior. The little Moody Bible school broadcast was down there singing, they tell me, at his... So they had all the curtains pulled down in the room, the shades. And they were sing in there, singing, "Nearer My God To Thee," and something. And Brother Rader was quite a cut-up. You know how he was. He looked around; he said, "Who's dying, you or I?" Said, "Raise up those curtains." Said, "Sing some good old fashion Gospel songs." So they started singing "All Hail The Power Of Jesus' Name," and...?... So Luke was standing there, his brother. I guess you knew Luke. Called Luke up to his side and said, "Luke, we've been a long ways together. But to think of it, five minutes from now I'll be standing in the Presence of Jesus Christ, clothed in His righteousness." Closed his eyes and went to meet God. A few weeks ago, I was at Fort Wayne Gospel Tabernacle where we were having a service. And in there... I never had heard the song before. A night or two after the Angel of the Lord appeared to me and commissioned me, I was in--walked into my church, my pianist was over there playing, "Only Believe." And I said, "Play that again." The Angel of the Lord seemed to like that.
- Branham, 50-0823 TESTIMONY

It is believed by some that this song contributes to the mind control of the cult, and when combined with the undue influence and other advanced strategies of persuasion, it becomes powerful in thought stopping technique. When faced with the many fundamental issues of cult doctrine, followers halt critical thought and respond, "I don't understand, but I believe it anyway." Some begin humming the tune as an involuntary mechanism of defence.

But was William Branham being completely honest with the people about this song and Paul Rader?

Paul Rader was a gospel evangelist that was well-known in Pentecostal Circles for his staunch fundamentalist stance. He was an associate and later contemporary of Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Pentecostal Foursquare Church Cult. In fact, when McPherson's health was failing, she named Rader to be her replacement and lead her following in the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, California where William Branham later held his Los Angeles campaigns.

But he was better known for his radio broadcasts, evangelistic campaigns, and leadership of the Moody Church in Chicago, IL. Paul Rader was a name many in the nation were familiar with, and his name was one that William Branham often dropped in a sermon. But Branham's connection to Paul Rader appears to be much deeper than he let his congregations know. When one examines the Rader family history, it is difficult not to ask the question: Why did William Branham never mention the rest of the Rader family? Was he avoiding the truth behind his theme song, "Only Believe?"

Paul Rader's father became the mayor of Jeffersonville when he won the election against Isaac F. Whiteside. Born in Henryville, Indiana, Thomas B. Rader was deeply involved with Jeffersonville politics, as well as the local fraternal organizations. One of his sons (Paul's brother Ralph), was in himself a miracle story. Apparently Ralph ran with a bad crowd, one who purposefully went to administer a harsh beating from time to time. While going with a friend to give one man his second beating, Ralph was shot in the back with a pistol. It was feared that he would be completely paralyzed, but Ralph managed to escape a bedridden condition. But this didn't stop Ralph from capturing interest of the Jeffersonville news. Ralph was almost caught at gambling, but managed to avoid any trouble.

But Ralph turned his life around. He went to Chicago to study for the ministry, and in 1914, it was announced that he would become a Methodist minister in Jeffersonville, Indiana. At some point in time, Ralph moved to Los Angeles, California, and made national news speaking on behalf of the Latin-American Home Missionary conference of the Methodist Episcopal church against dance, liquor and cigarettes. Though we can't be certain, it is likely during his time in Los Angeles at the home of Aimee Semple McPherson where Ralph came in contact with the Pentecostal doctrine.

During this time, in 1921, Paul Rader wrote the song "Only Believe." By this time, Paul Rader was the president of the Christian and Missionary Allicance, and had learned the power of the beat used in American Jazz music. According to Paul, ragtime and jazz were very effective on "converting heathens" to Christianity, and therefore he began stressing that it be used in the missionary field. A hundred missionaries were armed with the jazz beat by 1923, and Paul Rader said that the rocky jazz beat "delighted" the savages when he put sacred words to a jazz beat. Ironically, those in the cult following of William Branham are often scolded by their pastors for listening to any sort of music with a beat -- the pastors claim that this type of music "came from heathens." It would be comical if a person studied in the history of Chrisitan music heard such a statement in a sermon that followed the singing of "Only Believe," especially when it had enough beat to inspire Elvis Pressley to sing it during his days as the "King of Rock and Roll."

While in Sacremento, Ralph Rader fell deathly ill and needed an operation. He fasted for 27 days straight, and it was announced that he no longer needed any operation. Whether related to his illness or simply because he felt homesick, Ralph Rader came back to Jeffersonville to start a church. Before long, the newspapers began advertising the Rader Gospel Tabernacle on 739 Spring Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Interestingly, the subject matter of his sermons sounds eerily familiar to that of William Branham's. Reverend Ralph Rader addressed subjects such as "Is Russia mentioned in the Bible in Prophecy?" He preached sermons addressing questions about automobiles, airplanes, Jews in Palestine, World Wars, the church going through (or escaping) the great tribulation, and more.

But things really get interesting when Roy E. Davis fled charges of swindling and fraud in Louisville, KY after leaving behind a congregation still reeling from his underaged sex scandal. Before starting a church of his own, the spokesman for the Ku Klux Klan became a choir leader in Ralph Rader's Gospel Tabernacle. It is most likely that as choir leader, Roy E. Davis would have been singing "Only Believe" in the church of Paul Rader's brother. Does this mean that William Branham learned the tune from Roy Davis? Was he singing it when he was in charge of the worship service in Roy Davis' Pentecostal Tabernacle in 1933?

Davis' time as choir leader for the Rader Gospel Tabernacle was brief. Shortly after becoming active in the services, Davis was terminated for reasons unpublished, and left Rader to start his own Pentecostal Tabernacle. When he left, Davis took several of the people away from Ralph Rader's church. Quite literally, Roy Davis' church was formed through stealing members from Ralph Rader's congregation. And worse, the funds for starting the Pentecostal Tabernacle came directly from the money swindled in Louisville. According to the newspapers, the deed to Davis' church was thus invalid. It was from this church separation that Davis set up his base of operations to promote and recruit for the Ku Klux Klan on his path to becoming the Imperial Grand Dragon of the Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Why does William Branham never mention Mayor Rader or Ralph Rader's church in Jeffersonville? When the nationally-recognized pastor of the Rader Gospel Tabernacle -- and former mayor's son -- returned to Jeffersonville, would it not have been the talk of the town? Was William Branham part of the congregation that left with Roy Davis when Rader's church split? Is this why Roy Davis chose William Branham to become one of the first elders in his church?

When Roy E. Davis was extradited to Arkansas on charges of grand theft and connection to murder shortly after his "church plant," William Branham assumed the role of pastor while the other elders in Roy Davis' church assumed roles of elders under William Branham. Branham effectively became the new pastor for a large portion of Ralph Rader's church. Did William Branham avoid mentioning Ralph Rader or his connection to Paul through the Rader Gospel Tabernacle because the masses would learn of his dealings with Rader's church?

The Rader research (including newspaper articles and audio):

Our Roy Davis research page has also been updated with the article from the Jeffersonville Evening News September 25, 1931:

More on Roy E. Davis' connection to William Branham can be found in the book Stone Mountain to Dallas - The Untold Story of Roy E. Davis: