Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hippies with Banjos part 2

I seem to have struck a chord with some of you after that recent post!

The irony of it all is that I'm now using my (worldly) guitar and mandolin to play some very old hymns indeed - and I'd suggest faaaaar older than the stuff that most church organists or praise groups play every Sunday across the country. The most extreme example is that I'm currently tinkering with some of the songs from the Gude and Godlie Ballates, first published in 1546.

But there's just nothing like being in a wee hall somewhere with people really belting out a mighty old hymn! As the multi-genre group Alabama 3 wrote in their track "Ain't Going to Goa" - "...when I want consciousness expansion, I go to my local tabernacle and I SING!..."

Congregational singing seems to be declining, and this is causing concern in the more discerning corners of the evangelical world. In days gone by, the power of song was fully understood. In 1912 Ulster, it's no accident that the great political gatherings at the time of Ulster's Solemn League and Covenant began with the thousands who were gathered singing hymns - it binds people together. Football or rugby matches are our only comparison today - Abide With Me at the FA Cup Final, or the marvellous Welsh anthem:

Here's a great wee song that celebrates the atmosphere and content of old-time gospel meetings - it's a bit corny, but I love it!:

O how well I remember in the old-fashioned days,
When some old-fashioned people had some old-fashioned ways;
In the old-fashioned meetings, as they tarried there
In the old-fashioned manner, how God answer'd their pray'r.

Twas an old-fashioned meeting in an old-fashioned place,
Where some old-fashioned people had some old-fashioned grace;
As an old-fashioned sinner I began to pray,
And God heard me and saved me in the old-fashioned way.

There was singing, such singing of those old fashioned airs
There was power, such power in those old fashioned prayers
Old fashioned conviction made the sinner pray
And the Lord heard and saved them in the old fashioned way

If the Lord never changes, as the fashions of men,
Even though He's the same, why, He is old-fashioned, then!
As an old-fashioned sinner saved thru old-time grace,
O, I'm sure He will take me to an old-fashioned place.


robert said...

No need to apologize about the "corny" song. It's just fine. Civila Martin wrote a similar gospel song called "The Old-Fashioned Way." You can find out more today on my blog, Wordwise Hymns.

And while I'm at it, I suppose that was some "old-fashioned" singing of the Welsh anthem. But wow! I love to hear folks just rear back and let'r go! And not just women, but men too. Great stuff!

Today we get too much breathy, sensual singing, where the singer seems about to swallow the mike (even with some Christian songs, sad to say).

My favourite singer is the late, great baritone, John Charles Thomas. He sang a lot of hymns. One music commentator said he had a voice like a pipe organ. I like that. Full, rich, precise singing that conveys the message clearly.

Well, just wanted to drop by. You might enjoy a look at my blog.