Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Gospel According To . . .

Gospel music and spirituals were two of my building blocks growing up in the Bible belt of the Southwest, whether at church or in the glee club in elementary school. The glee club director was a flamboyant man who pulled good, if not great performances out of his students. The boys wore puffy calypso-inspired homemade long-sleeved shirts, which might have kept a few local seamstresses busy for a few years.

The girls didn’t suffer a lesser fate than we did; only they wore black skirts to our black pants. Patten leather shoes or real leather shoes, for those who could afford them, and dark socks rounded out the uniform. Apart from those garish uniforms, I remember his belief in us as a group and individually. I remember a few of the songs or scattered lyrics when I feel the blues coming over me or when thinking of former choir mates.

Ezekiel saw the wheel (sustain note, breathe) way up in the middle of the air. Ezekiel saw the wheel (breathe) up in the middle of the air. Doom-a-looma-doom-a-looma. A wheel, and a wheel.

* * *
Eli~jah R’o’c’k! Elijah Rock, Elijah Rock, Elijah Rock. Elijah Rock, Elijah Rock … Elijah Rock, shout! Shout! Elijah Rock, coming up Lord. Elijah Rock, shout! Shout! (repeat refrain, boys begin, girls echo) Satan’s a liar, and a conqueror, too. If you don’t watch out he’ll conquer you. If I could, I surely would. Just on the rock where Moses stood. Rock-a-Elijah Rock, shout! Shout.

* * *
Sunday morning services were different in my Methodist church. There were no tambourines to glory or choir director standing, playing the piano with hand one while directing with the other. I was in the children’s choir at church, but not for long. It’s probably a lopsided comparison, besides, an adult choir versus a youth glee club.

Each holds a space in my mind and heart. The various adult church choirs had experience and suffering that fueled their voices; the glee club with its natural and trained voices, now seems like the beginning of a journey.

Back in Houston when I sat in the balcony overlooking the congregation and choir, or standing with my back erect in the glee club before the curtains opened, I didn’t think ahead to how those songs and experiences would carry me through the rough spots in life.

Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we are going to see the King.

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