Oh, what singing! Oh, what glory!Published 11:00pm Friday, July 19, 2013
Not one member of the Senior Choir at the Troy Nutrition Center claims to be a professional singer. Not one.
In fact, several laughingly said they couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. “But we can make a joyful noise … and love lifts us up.”
For 10 years or more, the Senior Choir has gathered around the piano on Wednesdays and Fridays, first at the “old’ Center and now at the “new” Center, to sing praises to their Heavenly Father.
“Choir time is a special time for our clients,” said Hassie Green, Troy Nutrition Center director. “And, no, they aren’t trained voices. They are people who love the Lord and want to sing praises to Him. We are so thankful that we can give them this opportunity.”
Green said the Senior Choir sings the “old time religion” type of songs.
“They sing the songs they grew up singing in church,” she said. “The same songs their parents and their grandparents sang. Those old-time songs tell stories and they are the stories they like to hear and to sing over and over.”
The songs are sung on request.
“The choir members call out a page number and that’s the song they sing next,” Green said. “So, most all of them get to sing one of their favorite old-time church songs very time they sing.
“All the choir members, as we used to say, ‘grew up in church.’ Back when they were children, they went to church to worship and praise God but church was also their social life. The members of the Senior Choir have many fond memories of how they were raised. And, every Wednesday and Friday, they sing with their hearts and remember those wonderful times in their lives.”
For some of the seniors, their childhood memories of church bring back painful memories of switches with “stickers” on them.
“We knew better than to misbehave in church,” said Betty Sanders. “We didn’t have a choice. We just knew we better behave.”
Sanders told of a little boy who dared to misbehave in church.
“His daddy picked him up, put him on his shoulder and was taking him out of church,” she said. “All the way out, the little boy was hollering, ‘Help me! Help me!’ but nobody did.”
Louise Toney told a story on herself and a young relative who was intent on getting the young girls to notice him.
“The girls weren’t paying any attention to him so he kept on acting up,” Toney said, laughing. “I gave him a good licking right there in front of the girls. That got him their attention but not the kind he wanted.”
Eva Collin and Amy McLendon said they were baptized in a pond when they were 12 years old.
“It scared us to death,” Collin said. “I thought the preacher was drowning me.”
McLendon said that she, too, was terrified.
“I couldn’t swim and that was the first time I’d been under the water,” McLendon said. “It scared me because I didn’t know what was happening.”
Some seniors told of walking miles to church while others said they rode a wagon. They told of long-winded preachers, hard-bottomed pews and dinners on the ground.
But what they remembered most was the music, those old gospel songs that they all love so well.
“Back then, there was no formality to the churches like there is today,” said Mary Smith, who plays piano for the Senior Choir, along with Nell King and Sarah Ann Whaley. “As soon as you came in the church there was singing and shouting and praising the Lord. Those old church songs touched my heart then and they still do. And, it’s the same for all of us who were a part of the old time religion.”
Veleta Waltman, Senor Choir director, said that, as people grow older, they naturally go back to the things that were so meaningful in their lives.
“I love all music that glorifies the Lord,” she said. “And, this old-time music touches all of us in a special way. It lifts us up and brings glory to God.”