I've been recently enjoying a CD version of an old (I think over fifteen years old) concert by an immortal gospel group, the Cathedrals. The album is "The Cathedrals Alive: Deep in the Heart of Texas." As it happens, all the tracks are available on Youtube. Here's one--"Ride That Glory Train." Listen for the late, great gospel pianist Roger Bennett accompanying. This isn't as fancy a video as some, so you don't get to see Roger, but he's a real presence in the song. As I've mentioned on other posts, George Younce and Glen Payne, two of the greats of gospel music, have both gone home to heaven, as has Roger (a much younger man who died of leukemia). Ernie Haase, the tenor, and Scott Fowler, the baritone, both have groups of their own.
Here is "We Shall See Jesus," from the same concert.
In June of 2010, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound recorded their new Cathedrals Tribute project, and here is the video of "We Shall See Jesus" from that project, with Ernie's wonderful introduction:
Great decision on Ernie's part not to let the song die. It would be a terrible thing if good songs were allowed to become museum pieces because people regard them as "belonging" to a singer who is now dead. Songs should live on. (I feel the same way about reprinting books, by the way, not to mention the deplorable habit publishers have of making books so incredibly expensive that publishing on paper now is like burying an article. The author writes, as the songwriter writes, for an audience, for the work to be known and, in the case of a song, performed and heard.)
Here is a great paragraph from a blog review of the DVD Cathedrals Tribute project:
Glen stays with them through the remainder of the song, and it’s hard to describe just how powerful that is. When people lose a loved one today, too many of them turn to empty means of comfort like letter-writing, or worse, to the occult, to give themselves a feeling of communication with the person. Yet Glen’s presence through video with the group as they sing provides a powerful reminder of the communion of saints without any such desperate measures. We as Christians do not need to convince ourselves that Glen is alive—we know that he is alive. He was with the group that night in more ways than one. Yes, we will see him again one day, but in the meanwhile, we have the assurance that he is living still.
That connection between gospel music and a concept like "the communion of saints" sounds like the kind of thing I might talk about here.