Worship in the 80s — Part 3

80sIn the 80s, when I was at Harding University, one of the more consistently rich spiritual experiences I had was in the Harding A Cappella Chorus, then directed and conducted by the late Kenneth Davis, Jr.

Besides Grechaninov, Grieg and Give Me Jesus (all mountaintop memories for me), one of the shared experiences was a “Life of Christ” hymn/song/scripture program we frequently performed for churches on tour.  There was a sequence used for many years, with only the reader-reciters of scripture verses changed from year to year.  Then an alternate sequence came along, using many different scripture passages and songs.  The second program wasn’t quite as popular with the students, but it was just as well conceived.  I recall both these programs as generally eagerly anticipated by chorus members, richly meaningful for all, and well received by church audiences.  Here is the first of the two programs:

Tell Me the Story of Jesus, st. 1
Isaiah 9:6,7
Matt 2:1-2, 10-11
O Come, All Ye Faithful
Psalm 96:11-13
Joy to the World
Tell Me the Story of Jesus, st. 2
Matt. 4:1,10,11,13
Yield Not to Temptation
Mark 1:32,34
At Even, When the Sun Was Set
Luke 15:11-15, 17-20
Love for All
God Is Calling the Prodigal
Tell Me the Story of Jesus, st. 3
Matt. 26:36-41
When My Love to Christ Grows Weak
I Stand Amazed, st. 4 (“He Took My Sins and My Sorrows'”)
John 19:1-6a
O Sacred head
Matt. 27:46,50
When I Survey
Matt. 28:5-6
Christ the Lord Is Ris’n Today
Matt. 11:28-30
Softly and Tenderly
Rev. 19:6,16
Hallelujah Chorus

I don’t know that any of us ever analyzed the content of this (birth, temptation, invitation to “prodigals,” death, resurrection, preparing for second coming).  I don’t suppose this program was completely balanced, but it was meaningful, and I’m here to tell you that we worshipped as we sang some of those songs, and as we recalled those events in the life of our Lord.


As I scan the list of scripture-reciting names on this old sheet of paper, I note, with no surprise, that there are only male names printed.  That is because tradition dictated that it was inappropriate to use women in that capacity in most/all of the church buildings in which we sang.

I also note with great interest that, of the 25 male names, I know something about most of them still today.  I don’t know where Eugene is, but he was headed into med. school.  Ed is in Richmond, Ron is in San Antonio, Mike and Glenn and Jim Bob and Tom and Larry and John are in Arkansas.  I don’t know about John or another Brian or Dan or Matt or Vance, but I know Tim moved from Nashville to Rochester, and Steve and Kirk are in Missouri, another Glenn is in OK, and Marvin is in Indiana.  At least two of the men whose names appear on this list have lost their faith, but most seem committed still.  One of these guys has died.  About half of the them are FB friends, so I hear bits every now & then but only keep up with a few of them.

2 thoughts on “Worship in the 80s — Part 3

  1. Tim 11/27/2014 / 6:42 am

    I, too, remember that special program of Scripture and Song. Have treasured it for years. I believe we did experience worship, night after night, as we moved through that part of our concert program. “Holy Radiant Light”, along with the conclusion of Peaceable Kingdom – “Ye Shall Have A Song” – are my touchstones for A Cappella memories.

    Also remember with great fondness once, so very long ago, when an old and venerable man (I later came to revere) came to the annual A Cappella reunion at homecoming, was led to the front of the crowded chorus, and sang ‘Old Man River.’ I was either a freshman or sophomore (I forget) and had never heard the song until he sang it. What a memory!

    Later, as I came to know that old man for a time, I remember him walking up and down the sidewalk of his home near Harding’s campus. I asked him, “What do you think about as you walk up and down the street?” I shall never forget his reply, “The glory of God.” What an even better memory!


    • Brian Casey 11/27/2014 / 6:29 pm

      Dear Tim — thanks much for looking in here and commenting. I too would add “Ye Shall Have a Song” and maybe another portion or two of Peaceable Kingdom, too, but there was no alliteration there with Grieg and Grechaninov. 🙂

      I of course know who you’re talking about in para 2 & 3 there. Not sure any of us in the Ritchie family would (or should) have used the word “venerable,” but it’s nice, coming from someone like you. I sometimes vacillate, wondering whether the memories and impressions of ATRJr. are aggrandized or apt. I almost always land on the latter, knowing he was a good, pious (in the best sense), honorable, and worship-filled man. But I’m still a little reluctant to give him too much attention, for fear of impressions. I did honor him in a few prior posts, findable here . The 2nd one has an old pic from the late 50s, and the tribute in the 3rd one is way down at the bottom.

      Your final paragraph touched me most of all: 1) I’d never heard that before, and 2) it absolutely articulates something to which to aspire!


Please share your thoughts. I read every comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.