I cannot remember a time when I was not involved in church. I believe my first venture to church was when I was 6 weeks old. Mom and Dad are still members of that same church they took me to 50 years ago, and some of my best memories as a child and teenager come from my time there.
Until I was about 12 years old, we worshipped in a relatively small white clapboard church with a front porch and a steeple. There were wooden pews and bright red carpet. Our only instruments were a small upright piano and a Hammond B3 organ. They accompanied the choir year week. Daddy was a deacon, Mom taught Sunday School and my sister sang in the choir. I sang my first solo on the steps of the altar of that church. The same altar where I prayed as a 7-year old child to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
Every Sunday evening, our service was broadcast live from our little sanctuary on the radio. That was the “big time” back then. We opened up every service with the hymn “Victory in Jesus”. You would hear the opening strains of the hymn as we signed on to the radio broadcast. It wasn’t long before I could sing the hymn without the use of a hymn book. And yes, the piano and organ were accompanying the choir and congregation.
I was fascinated with that organ. It made the coolest sounds. It only had half a pedal board, and it had levers that you pulled or pushed to a certain “number” to get the sound you wanted. And it had the coolest vibrato that I had ever heard. When we sang “Victory in Jesus”, our organist made full use of everything she had in that little organ and its vibrato. It amazes me that those memories are so fresh in my mind that I can close my eyes and go right back to that time and place.
Fast forward to 2015 and you will find me sitting at the console of a fine Rogers Organ at the church where I presently serve. I’m not a great organist. I do okay, and one of my favorite parts in accompanying congregational singing. This past Sunday, we sang “Victory in Jesus” during our morning worship. Now, this particular organ is a far cry from that little Hammond B3 from the early ’70’s, but I have found the right combination of stops and tremolo to create something fairly close to that same sound. As we raised our voices for the last verse on Sunday morning, I hit the preset and it was like I was back in the church of my childhood and youth.
I hope our congregation enjoyed it as much as I did. It just seemed the proper thing to do. That was the way “Victory in Jesus” needed to be sung.