|Bellefontaine Methodist Children's Choir|
Then, there were my mother and grandmothers always singing an octave below everyone else. In order to see, I stood on the church pew with them singing in my ear. Their occasional flat singing drowned out any hope of ever hearing the hymn as it was written. So, my experiences with traditional church hymns is not so rosy through my cracked and critical childhood lenses.
The contemporary hymns have several advantages: I don't have to read music, and they are in my key! I don't have to strain my voice to hit the high notes, nor go an octave lower as my family did. These hymns many not be rich in tradition nor scripture, but I can sing them!
Several weeks ago in worship, I was singing the "Gloria Patri" and instantly went into the alto harmony as I always do. And then it hit me: I have been singing this almost weekly in Methodist and Presbyterian churches in St. Louis and Pittsburgh----like a thread connecting all of my church experiences for 70 years. If I took nothing else away from Mrs. Sheets' church choir, I'd learned the harmony to "Gloria Patri" which was in my key and didn't strain my voice.
I looked down at my "supportive" shoes with my wire-rimmed glasses and was flooded with other memories besides squawking voices and voices singing an octave down. I now see the smiling face of Mrs. Sheets singing with such passion, the arms of my grandmothers around me to keep me from falling off the pew (where I was standing). And, the memories of being in the children's choir with friends and family learning the alto part to "Gloria Patri".
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, World without end. Amen, Amen