In our small mountain church we sang the old Baptist hymns from hymnals, no less, which are a rarity in today’s churches. If we were fortunate, someone—usually the preacher’s wife—knew how to pound out the same tune on the piano. Some of the standard songs were Only Trust Him, Bringing in the Sheaves, and The Old Rugged Cross. I acquired a tattered, probably soon to be discarded, songbook as my own and would often go off into the woods singing and making up the tune, if it wasn’t a familiar one. I couldn’t read music, but that didn’t stop me.
In the summertime, the week before Bible school rolled around, the children from our church piled into the back of a pickup. I don’t remember who drove us, but we traveled to the neighboring coal mining camps to advertise the upcoming event. We held handmade posters and sang This Little Light of Mine, The B-I-B-L-E, and Jesus Loves Me.
At home we listened to the radio or played photographs. I can still hear Fat’s Domino singing On Blueberry Hill. When we finally bought a television we were faithful fans of Laurence Welk and Name That Tune.
Now I love many of the songs from Broadway plays such as Les Miserable or Joseph and His Technicolored Dream Coat and I also enjoy listening to nearly any kind of string instrument, including Bluegrass and Yo Yo Mia.
I still sing in church, sometimes the old songs of long ago, but more often new ones and usually from words shown on a screen, but if I walked around in my neighborhood carrying an old hymnal—if one could be found—and belted out those old-time songs, I just might be committed.
Music is also important to several characters in my forthcoming book. Agnes Hopper listens to Going ‘Round the Mountain on her radio. Her friend, William, plays Elvis records on his photograph while a mutual friend, Francesca, loves classical piano music.
What kind of music touches your heart?
Do you have a particular song that brings back a fond memory?