Monday, August 9, 2010

Come to the Church in the Wildwood

"CHURCH MUSIC" - hymns, psalms, gospel, - a rich and plentiful source of music in America, doesn't get a lot of attention from me. But recently two "church" events have drawn my attention.

In Medway Maine, a small community north of South Woodville, and south of East Millinocket. IF you check you map you will see that this is very far north, and very rural. The census reports there are around 600 households with a total population of less than 1500. This past Sunday Medway celebrated the restoration and reopening of a beautifully classic New England church. The whole community turned out to join in the celebration.

In Standish Village, Maine, another interesting old church opened in 1808 after the demolition of the First Standish Church. In 1848 a second floor was added which became Standish Academy, which closed after a trustee made off with Academy funds. The Old Red Church now is open for tours, baptisms, weddings, at the annual Christmas Fair.

The St. Ann's Episcopal Church in Kennebunkport is right next to the George H.W. Bush summer home. It is a beautiful stone building, open during the summer for Sunday services, and is the scene of many summer weddings and baptisms. And not far from that church, in a small village called Turbot's Creek is a tiny little church in the woods.

I'm certain every old New England community has an old church, which like old schools, are only open in the summer for services. These churches probably had, if they were well supported, an old pump organ or pipe organ with bellows behind the pipes. No doubt their parishes raised their voices in prayerful and hopeful song.

Some of the older hymns which many are familiar with:

A Mighty Fortress is Our God (Martin Luther in the late 1500's)
Abide With Me Old Time Religion
Amazing Grace Onward Christian Soldiers
Blessed Assurance Rock of Ages
Come Thou Almighty King Sweet Hour of Prayer
He Leadeth Me In The Sweet By and By
I Love To Tell The Story In The Garden
Nearer My God To Thee To God Be The Glory
Shall We Gather At The River When We All Get To Heaven

Many of these hymns listed were written/composed in the 1800's and have stood the test of time in today's church services. Of course, as in all things, some newer music is being written, only time will tell if it will endure.

You can probably think of many more. My father used to sing The Old Rugged Cross when we went on our long Sunday mystery rides. And Come To The Church in the Wildwood, which is why I chose that hymn for title today.

If you are interested in some music Hal Leonard puts out Fake Books on both Gospel and Hymn music. ALso, if you Google "Classic Christian Hymns you will find more titles and the availability at Apple Sauce Kids. I did not attempt to download anything, but I believe there are free downloads at that site.

You must have heard the joke about the preacher who, preaching on demon rum, exhorted his parishoners to "dump your liquor into the river - and then announced the next hymn to be "SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER?"

PLEASE - keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing. It's good for you.


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