I wonder how many late-night meetings there were and how much blood had to be shed before black and white singers were permitted to sing together here in the South. Based on the perceived age of the singers, I know that there were many years when these people sang and praised in separate and unequal churches, when they sang in separate and unequal choirs, and when they and their children attended separate and unequal schools. But there they are, singing classic gospel late into the evening.
I think that the only person I know who loved hymns more than I do was my father. Back in the days of eight-track tapes, my father created tapes of hymns that he listened to over and over. There was one song, a contemporary hymn/worship song back in the 1970s sung by Dallas Holm called, "Rise Again" that my father absolutely adored. He loved it so much that he copied it onto one tape at least five times in a row. He listened to that one song hundreds of times in his life - which was quite a feat back before anyone had even heard of a Walkman, an iPod or a playlist. (FYI: the visual part of the video is taken from a movie of the life of Christ, but the accompanying music is the Dallas Holm song. We played the song at my father's funeral.)
I used to stand next to my father at church and simply listen to him sing. Sometimes I would stop singing so I could listen closely to the joy and strength in his voice and in his faith as he sang those words he knew so well and believed so deeply. Songs like, "Great is thy faithfulness," "It is Well with My Soul," "How Great Thou Art," and "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" still make me cry when I sing them because they remind me so much of my father and his rock-solid faith in the God we both love and worship.
I wish my Dad could ride in the van and sing with me. I think we would make good harmony together, his tenor voice with my alto voice. I wish he could hear my children sing. I wish he could have heard the series I taught recently on the history of some of our favorite hymns. But now that I think about it, I think he's with me all the time, singing, listening, holding me close.
And someday we will stand and sing together again, his voice and mine blending together.
His wide open arms pulling me close as we sing. His bright smile lighting up the sanctuary.
Oh, that will be glory for me.
Until I get the chance to sing with him again, When The Roll is Called Up Yonder,
I will sing along with the Classic Gospel productions on local access television.
Yea, when I look at this show, when I listen to Bill Gaither narrate each episode, when I look at their hair, I know that I'm right about one thing - it's definitely a Southern thing.
I do miss my Daddy.