For my uncle’s 70th birthday celebration, he wanted a ‘sing-along.’
He grew up a Missionary kid, you know. Born in Guatemala, he grew up in Bolivia, and raised his own family in Ecuador. He sang his way through it all.
So yesterday evening, friends and family gathered in the sanctuary of a church and sang the old hymns. We sang a few I’d never heard before–though my mom knew every one. These are good Baptist songs, she said.
Imagine that, singing Baptist songs in a Pentecostal church.
We sang a lot of hymns I did know. They were songs sung at camp meetings–where churches from miles around would gather in an old cement building to sing and clap and listen to evangelists speak; where us kids would sit on blankets on the cool ground and bide our time until we could join everyone outside for hot dogs and soda.
A lot has changed since those days.
I no longer call that denomination my own; though I am thankful for the foundation it laid. Summer camp meetings have, for the most part, gone by the wayside; a fact that seems a bit sad.
But while there are always new songs to sing, those old hymns remain some of my favorites. Many are songs born of suffering and hardship. They’re songs that stir the soul. They’re songs that are as much a part of me as the air I breathe.
Of course, we didn’t just sing them, mind you. We listened, as well. My uncle joined his brothers for their quartet, much like that they had growing up–a definite highlight. Others got up and sang songs they held dear.
Then there was the one who got up, started singing, and added hand movements–for every word. My eyes grew side; I held my breath. My mother leaned over and whispered, Oh, that is ill-advised. From that moment forward, there could be no eye contact, lest I lose all composure whatsoever.
I guess it’s true–no matter how the years may pass, some things never change.