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Music Legend Loretta Lynn, Dead at 90, Clung to Jesus as Her ‘Friend’

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Loretta Lynn SXSW 2016. Anna Hanks from Austin, Texas, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trailblazing country musician Loretta Lynn “passed away peacefully” at age 90 today (Oct. 4), according to a statement from her family. Known for her hardscrabble life as a “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and her personal lyrics, she also was a devout Christian who spoke openly about her faith. Two days before her death, a post on Lynn’s Instagram account shared the words of John 3:20-21.

The award-winning Lynn is being remembered for her talent and grit. “She was the groundbreaking female singer-songwriter in country music,” says author Robert Oermann. Lynn also made three gospel albums and hosted an annual gospel music festival at her Tennessee ranch.

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Loretta Lynn: ‘Gospel Music and Church Is What I Knew’

Born into poverty in Kentucky in 1932, Lynn dropped out of elementary school, married at age 15, and had four of her six children by age 19. She describes attending Sunday school and church as a child, listening to her father’s cousin preach. “Gospel music and church is what I knew,” she said. “We had church in a little one-room schoolhouse that my great-grandfather built.”

In her 1976 autobiography “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” later made into a movie, Loretta Lynn admitted that all those sermons “about God and the devil” led to some “funny beliefs,” including superstitions. After a band member dedicated his life to Christ and began studying the Bible with Lynn, she got baptized as an adult. “I was real nervous because the Bible says you have to be immersed,” she wrote, and “I’m scared to death of water.” Though the singer’s travels often kept her from Sunday worship, she read Scripture “whenever I can.”

Retired minister Terry Rush told the Christian Chronicle that Lynn “really was serious about her faith and a devout member of the Church [of Christ].” Lynn once described how religious music needs to be made “without instruments” because “the Church of Christ feels you should make music in your hearts.”

‘I’ll Be Lost’ Without Jesus, Admits Country Superstar

In a video posted to Instagram this past Easter, Loretta Lynn shares what Jesus means to her. “My faith means a lot to me,” she says, strumming a guitar. “If it wasn’t for God, none of us would be here. Jesus is my friend. I keep hold of his hand and I don’t let loose. If I ever let loose, well, I hope he grabs me because I’ll be lost.”