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What Shall We Sing?

September 16, 2008 | 7 Comments

Mr. Keillor, when you come to Abilene Christian October 18, you might like to know that hundreds and hundreds of your auditors will be members of Churches of Christ, who practice four-part a cappella singing in their worship assemblies. This tradition is still strong in Abilene. So ask us to sing with you. I think you'll be delighted at the result.

Carisse B.

I'll be planning on it, Carisse. The Abilene audience will be up against some stiff competition, though. I remember a Mennonite audience in Indiana that sang a capella a gorgeous four- or eight-part "Doxology." I just said, "I understand that you people have your own version of 'Praise God from Whom all blessings flow'" and I pointed at them and they sang. And then there was an audience of Lutherans at St. Olaf who, when I pointed at them, sang four verses of "Children of the Heavenly Father" in four-part harmony. We don't have many Church of Christ people up here and I understand that you don't allow musical instruments in church — neither did the Sanctified Brethren whom I grew up among — so I will have the band hidden behind a screen. What shall we sing? "Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing"? "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross"? Whatever we do, we'll get complaints from the humanist crowd, but hey — complaint is an art form and it's good for people to get some practice. In the Church of Christ, you probably call it witnessing.


I can't wait for the show! Memories
of gospel music in the Southern Baptist
Church abound (I'm an Episcopalian
now -- Bach is good too).
How about Mansion Over The Hilltop or
(my Dad's favorite) How Great Thou Art?

On another note, my husband and I
attended the Tony Bennett concert at
the Greek Theater last Friday. Tony
was great -- the crowd was RUDE!
Your "crowd" at the Greek, Garrison,
is always respectful.
San Clemente

How delightful! Wish I'd been to your show at the Red Butte Garden here in Utah, and suggested you have Mormons there sing a verse of The Spirit of God, or Come Come Ye Saints.

Hello Mr. Keillor,

I just read the question, What shall we sing? To which I see others have suggested much more reverent songs, but I just heard something that reminded me of the tune you were often singing after the last presidential election: We're all Republicans now.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow just ended a segment devoted to this week's Wall Street bailout with the comment "Like it or not, we're all Socialists now" and your tune immediately came to mind. I was hoping you might have a new take on the song. This could be the peppy little salve everyone needs these days. That and a little comedy.

I am very much looking forward to the new season.

Best wishes,

I grew up in the Church of Christ, too, but fell away long ago. My fondest memories of church were the "Singings," and I second the vote for "How Great Thou Art." A breathtaking closing hymn is "Abide With Me."

Mr. Keillor, "How Great Thou Art" would be well known and enthusiastically sung. "Blessed Assurance," "Anywhere With Jesus" or "Trust and Obey" would appeal to the over-50 singers. Lutkin's "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" (with a seven-fold Amen) has broad appeal with respect to age, because students sing it frequently on campus as well as in church. It has moving parts in all four voices and rises to a magnificent crescendo, then subsides. "Be With Me, Lord" by Sanderson and Chisholm is a poignant hymn that originated in Churches of Christ, but its verses may not be so well known among students. "When Peace Like a River" would be well known among all ages 'round these parts and is sung by young and old. And, of course, "Amazing Grace" is very familiar.

I think the "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" or "When Peace Like a River" would perhaps demonstrate this type of singing the best. The former piece would be somewhat shorter.

In this ever-more-crazy world
of ours I am happy to find
myself pondering which "song"
Garrison will choose for the
sing-along Oct. 18. No matter;APHC
brings sanity to an otherwise
insane world.
San Clemente

PULLEEEEZE, "The Lord Bless You and Keep You", which is sung at a lot of large Abilene gatherings--or "Holy, Holy, Holy", which is beautiful sung here in Moody Col. Sopranos start alone with v.1, alto adds v. 2, tenors v.3, bass, v.4....either are just gorgeous.

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