Once again I left church with the feeling that something was missing. Fellowship time was great—handshakes and hugs from folks I hadn’t seen since last week. The pastor delivered an inspirational sermon. Two people joined the church. So what was wrong?
I sat in the car a few moments and thought about it. First, laughing and talking with fellow worshipers during fellowship time. Next came music time. Music! That’s what it was. I didn’t get to sing one song. Not because I didn’t feel like it, but because I didn’t know any of the songs. Sure, the words were up there on the giant screen, but when you can’t see the notes you can’t sing the song. At least, I can’t, anyway.
I grabbed my compact disc filled with the old hymns of my childhood, stuck it into my car player, and headed for home. The familiar music filled my car as I made my way down the back streets of Westlake, and I sang lustily along with it. I got a few strange looks along the way as I made my way home, but I didn’t care—I got my Sunday music fix, albeit slightly off key.
The music brought me back to my years at Westwood Baptist Church on Westwood Road, now known as Sampson Street. The two pastors of my time there were the Reverends Perry Hollis and Pratt McCloud. Brother Hollis was the first pastor of Westwood. Brother McCloud succeeded him and was there to marry me to the love of my life in 1956.
But I digress. This is about music. We didn’t have a paid music director—one of the choir members usually filled that position.
First thing up—the Doxology
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen
Now what’s wrong with opening a service with that?
We always sang three songs—first, second, and last stanzas. Next came the special music, either a solo or an ensemble of some kind. Then the sermon and the invitation song. Most of the time it was Just As I Am.
Amazing Grace. Blessed Assurance. Holy, Holy, Holy. The Old Rugged Cross. Rock of Ages. Onward Christian Soldiers. These are but a few of the songs I grew up singing in the little plain church house on Westwood Road. Most of the time I can still sing along without a book—for the first stanza, anyway. My favorite hymn of all time is It Is Well With My Soul. I never tire of hearing it or singing it, although I have a habit of getting misty-eyed when we get to the last stanza.
I know time marches on and we should march along with it. However, let’s not discard everything from the past. Let’s keep the good stuff and build on it. So, Music Directors out there—humor us Silver Saints. Give us something to keep our memories alive.