There are many places we’ve been to in the past that continue to exist with the memories we once shared with them. Going back to these places after being away for a long time could be as nostalgic. They bring us to the old time and give the chance to experience some golden things the second time around. Many songs have been created to be that evocative. That’s one of the powers that music possesses. Even gospel songs are not exempted from such a theme. The classic Southern Gospel song “The Old Country Church” could be cited as an example. This tune is one of the greatest compositions of JD Sumner. The song specifically focuses on a certain place, an old country church, once visited by the narrator. It perfectly captures the emotion as well as the excitement of someone who may have a similar experience in life.
Consisting of eight verses, the song narrates the reasons that make the singer want to go back to the old country church. In the first verse, the narrator talks about the songs of praise that people used to sing in that old country church. The people would jovially sing those gospel songs until they make the rafters ring. That really sounds fantastic! In the second and third verses, the singer was more metaphorical. He describes the river where they used to gather as something “that flows from the throne of God.” On the other hand, he recalled how the old church’s aisles were once witnesses to God’s glory coming down and giving smile to the children.
The song also borrowed lines from other classic gospel tunes for its chorus. These are “In the Sweet By and By” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Other things the singer remembered and discussed in the succeeding stanzas were about his friends whom he got to see on Sunday and pray with during prayer time. Toward the end of the song, the narrator had slowed down a bit. There, he mentioned the many fellows who had already gone to the afterlife given the many years that passed. But, he also stated his firm belief that they are happy and continue singing on the other shore. In the final verse, the narrator declared his redemption by the Divine love as Christ now lives in him.
Below is a live rendition of “The Old Country Church” by a group of great gospel music singers. Watch and sing with them.
The Author, JD Sumner
J.D. Sumner was a prominent name in Southern Gospel music. He spent almost five decades singing gospel songs across the world with The Stamps. With their unique vocal style and cheerful performances, it’s no wonder they were able to bring gospel music to the next level. Sumner and The Stamps would ultimately go as far as working with no less than Elvis Presley. The success associated with their participation during The King of Rock and Roll’s concerts, recordings, and films could never be discounted. Moreover, Sumner and his band racked up numerous accolades for their gospel music. Among the honors they received were a Grammy and GMA Dove awards.
Meanwhile, Sumner’s gospel music stint helped him shape his musical talents and eventually becoming a dynamic artist in his sphere. Also, his vision and influence propelled him to become one of the founders of the Gospel Music Association. On the other hand, Sumner is a Guinness Book world record holder for being the lowest bass singer in history.
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Ben Speer, Ernie Haase, George Younce, Glen Payne, Jack Toney, James Blackwood, JD Sumner, Squire Parsons, The Old Country Church