In the Garden with Sean of the South

Every once in while, actually quite frequently, Sean Dietrich in his blog “Sean of the South” touches a chord within me. Similar experiences in the South, i guess, although the time difference is about a half a century.

Today, he knocked it out of the park when it comes to chord touching.

You see, “In the Garden” is close to being my favorite gospel hymn, and would be unequivocally if there weren’t so many i love.

i keep trying to play several of them from “Christian Service Songs,” that belonged to my sister but i ended up with — Did she give it to me? Probably. Martha is very good to me. And why did i call it the “Cokesbury Methodist Hymnal? Was that the big Sunday morning version with the more formal hymns? Oh man, i have forgotten so much — And i try to play those songs on the piano even though i cannot pick out the left hand accompaniment to the right hand tune very well, if at all. But i keep coming back to “In the Garden” primarily because i love to sing along it with my futile picking — and to think i once (at 14) played in a recital in that beautiful concert hall at George Peabody College (and did fairly well, i might add, with a Bach piece, which, of course, i’ve forgotten, much less how to play it) thanks to Mrs. Gwaltney, who touched the lives of so many of us aspiring Lebanon musicians, one of which gave it all up for football, basketball, and baseball.

And Sean was playing and singing it with his band in an empty concert hall this time. i was singing it in our front room Maureen calls her work room and i call her fun room i should stay out of. i suspect Sean and i know i are taken back to church sings.

My walk back into yore was into that old second edition of the Methodist church on East Main Street , not counting Pickett Chapel, the original first Methodist church but i doubt if they called it that and the balcony shamefully was for the slaves and the white folks gave the building to the former slaves — Oh Lord, i hope not, although i’m pretty sure it was to have separate churches of the same denomination for folks with different skin tones. But this second edition with Bible scenes in the two huge stained glass windows and the three sections of sanctuary seating and the balcony, not for other skin tones like the Capitol Theater on the other side of the square but for Castle Heights’ Sunday morning marching cadets. But that balcony was pretty much empty on Sunday evenings when the cadets were in CQ studying and the men’s choir sang and the sermon was short and the service was mostly gospel songs with everyone singing at the top of their voices and even if a bit off-key, could nail “In the Garden.” i would watch my father in the men’s choir singing his heart out while Mother sort of squeaked, and Martha, Joe, and i baroomed out the words.

Gotta tell you, it made me feel good, warm inside. Wish i could go there one more time.

“In the Garden.”

Thanks, Sean.

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