February 26, 2016
“Daddy Sang Bass”
Well, actually tenor as I do and as my son Joshua does.
Some of my earliest memories of my father are about him singing to me.
We’d be outside at night catching fireflies and my dad would sing “I see the moon, the moon sees me, shining down through the old oak tree; please let the moon that shines on me, shine on the one I love.” I’m not sure why that was a favorite with my father, but I know he sang it often.
Dad would also sing a song that for years I was sure he had made up. It’s actually a song Eddy Cantor released in 1929 called “I Faw Down An’ Go Boom!” It begins, “I played horsey down the street, with my broom down the street, and then somebody moved the street and I faw down an’ go boom!” I was certain he made it up because it seems no one had ever heard of it besides my father. Even today, it’s unknown but in 1929 it made it to #16 on the Billboard Charts.
As a child, my dad would sing to me when I was hurting and I would find comfort and love in my father’s arms.
I remember the first time I got to hear my dad sing at a funeral; dad had a great tenor voice and often would sing at weddings or funerals as a soloist. This time he was singing for a funeral at the Presbyterian Church in Wabasha. Dad had been asked to sing “The Lord’s Prayer” and “In The Garden.” At the time, I would have been only 12 years old and I remember being filled with awe as I listened to that powerful tenor voice. I don’t remember much else about that day, but I do remember listening to my dad sing.
Dad and I often sang together and those are some of my best memories to this day.
Later on, when my father died, my brother Tom sang at his funeral; Tom sang “In The Garden” – one of my dad’s favorites and it remains a favorite of mine. I’m not sure how Tom got through the song that day but I remember that he did an amazing job of it.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a Pastor, but life never took me down that road. I’ve done many many things in my life, but I’ve never been a Pastor. In fact, for most of my life I’ve been much more of a sinner than a saint. I’m working on that now.
My own son Joshua, shocked me one day when he announced that he was changing majors in college from audio engineering to become a Pastor. Even though he was close to the finish line, God called him to a higher calling, serving Jesus.
Josh’s first church was in the tiny town of Chadwick, Illinois where he’d been called to be the pastor of the Chadwick Evangelical Free Church even before his graduation from Moody Bible Institute. Chadwick “E-Free” was a bit larger than an adult Bible Study when Josh began his calling, but it grew over the years as “Pastor Josh” shared God’s Word with the people of Chadwick and Carrol County.
I mention all of this, because I often sang with Josh on Sunday’s when we visited in Chadwick. And, just as I’d sang with my father, now Josh sang with me.
Today, my grandchildren, Josh’s children, sing in church where Josh is now a Pastor in Ashland, Wisconsin. My granddaughter Moriah sings and composes music and my grandson Liam recently competed in a local talent show singing a contemporary Christian song. It’s amazing to listen to my grandchildren sing and I like to think that they “came by their talent honestly” from my dad.
And me? Well, I’ve been singing in the choir at St. John’s Lutheran Church for 18 years and lead our Men’s Choir in singing a lot of the old favorites I remember from my youth. I also sing for weddings and funerals, just like my father.
For me, there’s no greater joy than singing, especially with the men when all of those rich harmonies come from deep within. Sometimes we “raise the roof” and other times we’re deeply moved ourselves as the words we sing drive home what we feel inside and “give us shivers” as we’re wont to say.
God blessed me with a dad that loved to sing and he passed that love on to me.
I was asked once whether or not I was nervous when I sang in front of the congregation. And, I replied, never in church, never in church – as I did as a child, I take comfort in my Father’s arms.