OL’ TIME RELIGION: Troy Nutrition Center choir keeps tradition
Published 2:00 am Saturday, August 22, 2015
The singing of those old-time hymns could be heard outside the Troy Nutrition Center around noon on Friday. Much like the way it was back when church windows were raised to welcome any breeze that came along.
The nutrition center choir was circled around the piano and the members were singing the words of the hymns “by heart and from the heart.”
“That’s the only way I know to sing and praise God,” said Charlie Terry, at age 96, the most senior of the group. “I’ve been in church since before was born, and I’ve been singing as long as I could talk. I love to sing and I’m blessed to still be able to sing.”
Terry, like the other members of the Troy Nutrition Center choir, appreciates the opportunity to join others in singing those old familiar hymns of his childhood.
“Back when I was a boy, we didn’t know one note from the other,” he said. “We just opened our mouths and sang from memory the hymns we’d heard since we were born.
“Seems like church was more religious back then. More filled with the love of your fellow man and the Lord Jesus. You just put your heart and soul into singing. You let yourself go and sing and sing with uplifted voices.”
The Troy Nutrition Center Choir sings from 10:30-11:30 every Wednesday and Friday.
Mary Smith, pianist and song leader, said the only requirements to be a member or to just sit in and sing, are to have a heart full of song and to love the Lord.
“You don’t have to be a singer, you just need to love to sing,” she said.
The choir usually sings the familiar hymns, but Smith will sometimes select a hymn that is old but not familiar. And, the choir can usually pick it up. Sometimes, the choir members will like the tune or the poetry enough to add it to their long list of “favorites” like “I’ll Fly Away” and “Amazing Grace.”
“Not everybody sings in the choir, but just about everybody sings along when the choir sings those two songs,” said Shelia Deveridge, Center director. “You can look around and they’ll be playing dominoes or shuffling cards and singing along. When our choir sings, everybody sings.”
Betty Sanders and Ronnie Atwell are not members of the choir, but they have a deep appreciation for the music they grew up in with in church.
Sanders is a member of the Church of Christ and Atwell is Baptist so their backgrounds in church music is different, yet the same.
“In the Church of Christ, we don’t play instruments,” Sanders said. “We believe the music should come from your heart. The harmonizing of voices is a beautiful. But we sing many of the same hymns and they all have the sound of the poor folks that sang them so long ago. It’s a different sound from what we here in some churches today and to me it’s beautiful.”
Atwell said she grew up with the “old songs” and that’s the music she still enjoys.
“I like the old-time singing and the old-time preaching where God gives the preachers the words to say and they don’t have to read it off a piece of paper.”
Deveridge said the old-time church music has a special place in the hearts of many people, especially senior adults.
“This is the music they grew up with and they are often overcome with joy and sentimental emotions when they hear it sung. ‘Amazing Grace’ is one song they all love. That’s always the last song the choir sings. They get in a circle and join hands to sing to the Lord and it’s like they are back in church those many years ago.”
Deveridge said there are just some things that are too precious to let go.
“You can’t throw the old stuff away,” she said. “The things that brought you over will keep you in the tomorrows.”