June 2, 2019
The rhythmic sounds of banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass, and honky-tonk piano are still ringing in our ears. Our “Old Time Religion Music” Sunday joyfully filled the sanctuary and once again reminded us once again of music’s inspiring power.
Music also testifies to the Old Time Faith Paul and Silas seem to understand this in Acts 16. Bound and beaten, shackled behind prison bars with open wounds still bleeding from their beatings, our scripture says: “About midnight while Paul and Silas were praying and singing …” Today, we reclaim that old time faith that sings in the face of darkness, shakes away the shackles that bind us, and saves us from ourselves so we can be used for the surprising, redeeming mission of God. Share with us as we explore more fully this old-time faith for all times.
The music we played this past Sunday for our Old Time Religion Sunday has a fascinating history. The fun, joyful rhythms of this type of Gospel Bluegrass weaves its way through Irish fiddle tunes and Scottish folk music emerging out of tragedy and sadness.
These folk tunes often reflected their land’s stark landscape, the dangers they faced and the troubles they survived. Immigrating as early settlers in this country they adapted their Celtic music to a new American setting. Often in the mountains of Appalachia, these early Scots-Irish pioneers lived in isolated hamlets sharing hard lives. Their music reflected those tough times; yet, increasingly their music took on a new flavor of hope. The addition of the banjo to guitar, fiddle, dulcimer, bass and harmonica added new energy.
Probably adapted from instruments African slaves, the this precursor to the banjo was used to accompany traditional African songs. Gradually, a creative cross-pollination of styles and rhythms began to emerge as an iconic American invention.
With the help of the Monroe brothers in the 1930s and others like Hank Williams in 1948 with “I Saw the Light,” a new genre of joyful, hopeful Gospel music grew into the hearts and experiences of the American South. We are thankful to share in our annual “Old Time Religion Sunday.” In doing so, we pay tribute to those many who have gone before us, these ordinary, hardworking folks struggling in mountains and mills, hamlets and fields all across the south. And out of their hardships, they developed an extraordinary musical tradition that testifies to this Old Time Faith for All Times. Hank Williams says it all in his 1948 classic:
“I wandered so aimless, lost in my sin.
I wouldn’t let me dear Savior in.
Then Jesus came, like a stranger in the night.
Praise the Lord, I saw the Light!”
Praise the Lord indeed! And may each of you have a beautiful and joyful week.