Sunday, January 8, 2012

Family, Songs, and Praise

            “I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.” Psalm 144:9 (KJV)

When I was growing up, music was always a big part of our lives.  Mom and Dad both loved bluegrass and you could often hear it playing in our home.  I grew up listening to Reno & Smiley, The Stanley Brothers, The Louvin Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and many others.  Every Saturday night, we looked forward to the bluegrass show on WYSO radio station in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  They played all of the greats, and we seldom missed listening.  We also loved to hear a DJ by the name of Moon Mullins on a radio station in Middletown, Ohio.  He had a group by the name of “The Boys from Indiana”, and I distinctly remember a sad song they sang called, “Atlanta is Burning”.  (Does anyone remember them?)

Many of my family members play/played musical instruments, and we would gather often for family get-togethers…at my Uncle John’s, Uncle Cecil’s, Uncle Donnie’s, or Uncle Paul’s houses.  Dad played the banjo and guitar, Uncle Paul played the mandolin and fiddle, Uncle Donnie and Uncle John played the guitar, and several others of my cousins and various relatives played different instruments.  Almost all of us sang, and what wonderful times we would have!  I remember the first time I sang tenor.  We were driving along in the car, and back then we didn’t wear seat belts, so I would prop my little elbows on the back of the front seat and poke my head up between Mom and Dad while we were driving along.  Mom and Dad were singing “Amazing Grace”, and I began to chime in singing tenor.  I remember the shocked look on their faces…I was only three.

The older I get, the more precious my family grows to me.  I cherish the time I can spend with them.  My Mom is 83, so many of her siblings have already passed away.  There were nine to begin with; now there are only four.  Recently, Mom's youngest brother, my Uncle Donnie and his wife, Fran came down to spend some time with us.  Anytime we get together, we love to pass the time playing music and singing…it is just an automatic and such a part of our family times.  

Aunt Fran plays the dulcimer….very beautifully.  When she and Uncle Donnie play together, it is like they are playing one instrument…their timing, style, and precision is so in sync.  I could sit and listen to them play for hours….it takes me away…back to a place in my childhood filled with so many sweet memories, smiling faces, and happy times. 

I miss so many of the ones that have passed away…sometimes, just to remember, I play a tape that was made in my Uncle John’s basement years ago.  The tape was recorded when Kevin and I were recently married, and we had gone to Ohio for a vacation that included a big family musical get-together.  Uncle John videoed it, and a few years ago, he sent me a copy for my birthday.  Dad is on there playing his banjo….so many memories of happy days gone by.

When Kevin and I first started dating, I was so thrilled to find that he loves bluegrass, too, and knew all of the old groups and songs I was raised on.  He, too was raised with a lot of music in his life, and his brother, Phillip plays the guitar and banjo and has played in different bluegrass gospel bands through the years.  This is a video of a group he played in called, "The Daulton Quartet".
Phillip is the one on the far right playing the banjo and singing bass.

If video doesn't load, click here.

Music has a way of stirring our emotions and taking us back to moments that are past.  It is also very therapeutic, and it is a wonderful way to praise our Lord and Maker.  The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:19 (KJV) “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…”  It is wonderful to read the book of Psalms and to sing the old hymns and spiritual songs, and it means something if our singing and melody-making flows out of the depths of our personal experience and relationship with God.  I believe God takes delight when we sing and play music to glorify His name.  Psalm 33:2,3 (KJV) says, “Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.  Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” 

God inhabits the praises of His people.  In the Bible, singing, playing instruments, and praising God invoked His glory and power to descend upon the congregation so much that the priests could not stand to minister.  2 Chronicles 5:13, 14 (KJV) says, It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.”

In the Old Testament, we read the wonderful story of when King Jehoshaphat strategically placed singers out in the front of a battle to go before the fighting soldiers.  2 Chronicles 20:21, 22 (KJV) says, “And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. ”  Because they sang songs of praise to God, He fought their battles for them!  They didn’t set the ambushments against their enemies, God did!  If we approach our battles with the spirit of worship to God, magnifying His name through our singing, He will fight our battles for us today.  “They have seen thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary.  The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.”  Psalm 68:25 (KJV)

There are so many songs in my heart…and each one of them has special memories attached.  Old songs from my childhood sung while sitting around with family and loved ones, songs God has inspired me to write through various stages of my life, and beautiful hymns and songs I have learned and held dear through the years.  I cherish them all, and when I sing them, somehow they make my spirits soar above my troubles…whatever they may be.  If you would like a free CD sampling of a couple of songs God inspired me to write and record, I will be happy to mail it to you if you email me a request.  (I tried to attach the songs to the blog, but I was unable to get it to work.  J)  Please include your name and mailing address when you write.  And, by the way, the next time you are feeling blue, try singing a song of praise.  I guarantee that it will chase those blues away!

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