Gospel songs part of faith heritage for worshippers

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Kris Herron said he believes it’s important for the church to “remember where we’ve been and where we come from.”

That’s why Olive Branch Baptist Church, Ashland — where Herron serves as music minister — held an “old timey day” a few months back.

“We wore overalls, bonnets and long skirts,” he said. “Some guys in the church whose hobby is old cars brought them and had them sitting outside the old sanctuary, and we had ‘dinner on the grounds.’”

In past generations, people worked hard and didn’t always have much, but they knew where their wealth came from, Herron said.

“They’ve left us a legacy of faith, and I think it’s important for us to remember those old saints that laid the foundations that we are still building on today in God’s kingdom.”

So to remember those truths, after lunch they returned to the old sanctuary and sang from the “old short books,” with people calling out the numbers of their favorites, songs like “Victory in Jesus” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

“I’m 51, and I still love that kind of music, the old stuff — I grew up on it,” Herron said.

Jeff Helton said in his neck of the woods, people still love the old stuff too.

Mount View Baptist Church, Hayden, where he serves as pastor, is one of several churches in Sulphur Springs Baptist Association that regularly hosts a fifth Sunday red book singing. Everyone in the association is invited, and the singing usually draws a pretty big crowd.

“I think it’s about the memories, leading the songs our people grew up singing,” Helton said. “This is the same hymnal that my home church had when I was a child, and the songs are comfortable to a lot of people.”

Not only that, they have deep spiritual ties for them, he said. “Music is such an important part of worship, and the spiritual content of the hymns ties it all together for them.”

The fellowship is good too, Helton said. “Our association is made up of very small churches, and it’s great to get to just be together and sing and worship together.”