Thursday, January 27, 2011

Choir Practice

Sunset Over Jekyll Island by frances robson




Good evening and how are ya'll? Come on in out of the cold for it is up to 40 degrees but the wind is brutal and cold. Where oh where are you warm weather, hurry up and come for I don't like Mr. Winter. It makes me hibernate like a bear and I don't want to come out and play. So come on Spring and even better, come on Summer.

We had a great choir practice at our church, First Baptist Adel, for we are learning some great new music. This is not only a great musical time for me but a fun time also for we can be serious but a lot of laughter flows through our music. Chad is really good about bringing us back to working on the music but he has a lot of fun also and we really do have a good choir. We are blessed with many wonderful musicians so we can praise the Lord with wonderful music and I love it. We have so much fun sometimes that Chad just has to stop and calm us down for we are a "chatty" bunch.

Last night on the way home, I began to think about how choir practice has changed over my years. When I was a child and attending Camden Baptist Church in Camden, AL, Brother Roark, our pastor, also led the singing and a choir member would lead the choir. I can't remember if mama and daddy went to choir practice or whether they all just gathered before church and decided what hymn they were going to sing for a "special."

This "special" consisted of singing 3 or 4 verses of one of the beloved Baptist Hymnal hymns with a little variation. Sometimes they would sing verses 1-3 and then the chorus or sing all 4 verses then the chorus. At times the women sang 1 verse, men sang one and then all would sing last verse. I was grown before I realized you could sing all 4 verses of a hymn for we usually sang 1,2, and 4. I thought the 3rd was just there for decoration. This also left a "special" verse for the choir to sing.

I can remember the choir filing in and sitting in the wooden chairs on the right of the preacher and Brother Roark looking out over the congregation and calling on members to come on up and sing in the choir. No practice and sometimes the person couldn't sing a "tune in a bucket" as daddy would say but it was a warm body and it filled up a chair. "Miss Lois" Harris would play and off they would go in tune and out of tune but singing with their hearts. It seemed that a few always felt that singing louder made up for not being able to carry a tune. We all made a joyful noise with the leadership of this choir and Bro. Roark.

Later, we began to hire a college student to come just on Sundays to lead the singing and the choir. That began choir practice and singing from special choir music. What a change for our church. We would practice with the piano and sometimes the piano and the organ and prepare "specials" for Sunday worship. This ended the call up to the choir from the congregation on Sunday morning. If you didn't go to practice, you didn't know the song.

We even had one named John something who moved the organ to face the choir and he played the organ and led the singing. Needless to say, he didn't last very long for he "moved" the organ. He was also quite sophisticated in his choice of music and some of us liked it and some didn't. Remember in a Baptist church is some don't like something they can cause a ruckus.

This was a huge adjustment for the church for when some of these directors would bring in some "high class" music as some would say, many of our members were quite sophisticated in their musical tastes and would enjoy it but some were perfectly satisfied with the way "we had always done it." You hear a lot of that in churches, "We never did that way before."

Our musical program grew through the years and we soon had adult, youth, and children's choirs with a seminary trained director. There were even Christmas cantatas with candle light and eventually singing with a tape (remember those) We had reached the big time and our family was always involved in all of it for we all had pretty good voices and loved to sing. I played the piano and organ at our church for many years and directed some of the children's choirs and loved every minute of it.

I remember once in Columbus, MS, we were singing with a tape and that tape went berserk in that Baptist church and flew all over everywhere. The choir came to a sudden halt, faces turned red, the director had a moment of panic and then the pianist said, "I think I can play it" and off we went. It was very good for she surely could "play it" and we sounded great. Sometimes technology can be a pain for it will "mess up" at some point. I am just waiting for the electricity to go out during one of our specials and watch the panic on our faces. Should be fun.

All you needed to have practice and sing in the church was a piano and organ or a good cassette player later on. Wow has it changed! We now sing to a full band, which is on CD and we sound great. At practice, Chad has our music accompaniment on his I Pod and we use the piano or keyboard for individual part practice. On Sunday morning, we also sing with the music from the CD which allows us to have a full band to sing with. The only downfall to this is that we have to sing it like they recorded and we can't slow down, speed up, or do anything spontaneous but I do like it.

I still love the piano and organ but I do enjoy the "canned" music also. We sing some beautiful music and do it well but I sometimes wish we would just sing 3 verses of a hymn with the piano like we did in the "olden days."

Whatever the method we use it is still a wonderful experience for me and others. Singing with our friends in the choir and practicing together on Wednesday nights is not only preparation for worship but a fun fellowship also. I love music and I love singing and whether you sing with a piano and organ or with a full band, it is a good time.

I hope many of you are part of a choir somewhere but if not, I hope you sing with gusto during worship services. As I sit in the choir and look out over the congregation, I see many not singing and they look like they are eating a lemon and I feel so sorry for them. They not only look ugly, they are missing out on a joyful experience so come and sing with us or at least make a joyful noise and smile.

My recipe to share today is a good comfort food recipe. We live in the middle of vegetable farming and they are picking cabbage now which sometimes fall of the trailers. We all watch for the free cabbages on the side of the road, slam on brakes, jump out and grab the cabbage and enjoy slaw, cooked cabbage or my recipe for Cabbage and Brats. I use whatever smoked sausage links I have and this time I had fresh, not cured, brats we had bought from a butcher in Alabama. I hope you will try it for it really is good.

Cabbage with Bratwurst

1 head of cabbage cut into 4 wedges then slice into thick slices
1 onion
1 lb. Bratwurst
1 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
½ – 1 cup chicken broth or water
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the brats into thick slices – about ½ inch – and slice the onions into thin slices. Brown the sausage until almost brown, add onions and cook until onions are wilted. Reduce heat to medium and add the cabbage, apple cider vinegar, stir, and cover. After the cabbage has wilted add broth and salt and pepper to taste. Add just enough broth to keep it from sticking and give it a little “pot liquor.” Cook only until the cabbage is wilted but not mushy – still slightly green.
Serve with cornbread and pepper sauce.
By Frances Robson
©2011

If you use red onions, it is good and pretty. Try this and let me know what you think.

Ya'll be careful going home and come back to see me.

Nuff said,

The Georgia Peach

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