I love “favorites night” at church. Always have, always will. When I was a kid I couldn’t wait to shoot my hand up in the air and call out the number of my favorite song. It usually was an upbeat happy song, with a hallelujah or something for bolder people to call out.
When I first started playing the piano for church “favorites night” was a little scary. There were songs like “Jesus is Coming Again” with their impossible-to-play chorus. I dreamed of the day when someone, please won’t SOMEONE rewrite the music for the chorus of that song. It is just SO hard to play. Eventually though, I learned it and even got a thrill when I would accomplish the feat of making it through the chorus without any mistakes. At the proper tempo even! Amazing. Now I look at favorites as a challenge. There aren’t many songs in the hymnbook that are new to me but occasionally one will trip me up. It usually involves timing, never my forte since I play primarily by ear, secondarily by note.
Last night at church we had favorites and I realized another reason I love “favorites night”. As a child of a minister, PK in common vernacular, my life has revolved around church. Church is my culture and I certainly love going. I don’t feel right missing! The music is a highlight for me. But last night was a special blessing. After an initial song Pastor opened it up for favorites.
I can’t remember all of the songs but The Old Rugged Cross was one. I love playing that as a special, creating my own rendition, probably different each time I play it. It just takes me right back to my childhood. Another one was Onward Christian Soldiers which always reminds me of Vacation Bible School. Along with camp that was one of the highlights of my year as a child.
I played Servant’s Heart for the Offertory. It is a newer song. When I lived in Rapid City, before getting married we had a family in our church there for six years. They were Air Force so six years was a long time. They are from the Philippines and Arther led the singing for Sunday School. It was a rare Sunday that he wouldn’t choose Servant’s Heart. It was his favorite. So now, every time I hear, see, or play that song I think of Arthur Ortiz and the dear sweet family that I miss so much.
One other song we sang, Miss Barbara’s pick was Jesus is Coming Again. Miss Barbara’s hand shot up first and I almost giggled. This song always reminds me of my baby sister Vonda. (Sorry Vonda, you will always be my baby sister.) When she was little she misunderstood the words and she was always asking for the “Baby Soon” song. “Baby morning, Baby noon, Baby evening, it Baby soon.”
As I played it I got to the chorus. What? What is this? I stumbled along, trying to play the notes that had appeared in front of me. This was NOT how I remembered it. Someone had rewritten the chorus. Now it was in boring straight four-part harmony. None of the bouncy left-hand jumping from chord to chord thing. And I couldn’t play it. I found myself trying to revert to the way my mind remembered it. Of all the nerve. . . who would ever think of rewriting such an amazing piece of music. . .
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I love this entry. Reminds me of my own childhood as a preacher’s daughter playing on Sunday Evening Favorites. What wonderful memories we both have!
Thanks for your reminiscences. I’ve led many community hymn sings over the years. Also I have a regular part in the services of the church my wife and I attend. And about once a month I give a bit of time for requests. There are often favourites that we’ve missed singing, and folks enjoy the opportunity to ask for them.
If you enjoy reading about our hymns and their authors, I invite you to check out my blog on the subject, Wordwise Hymns. God bless.