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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)

TITLE: CHURCH OF THE FOUR HYMNS
By Mariane Holbrook
03/13/07


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Four hymns, that’s all.

At the little backwoods church we go to, we jus’ sing the same four hymns every Sunday from our dog-eared, worn-out, brown Baptist hymnals. Not ‘cuz we don’t approve of the other 283 hymns in the book but ‘cuz those four songs is all Lucy, our 78-year-old song leader, knows.

And she’s not about to learn no new ones, neither.

“Those four hymns done says it all,” she declared when anyone suggests we try somethin’ new like “How Great Thou Art.” We’ve sung “Shall We Gather At the River” even when we weren’t a-havin’ baptisms at Long Bottom Creek. Makes no sense.

On a good Sunday mornin’, our attendance averages maybe 32 which ain’t bad considerin’ there are seven other Baptist churches in our tiny mountain community and its round-a-bouts.

It seems like every coupla years we see Jake Harris’ lumber truck unload another pile of 2x4’s and trusses on an unused pasture with a sign a-sayin,’ “Future home of ‘This Here Is The Truth Baptist Church’.”

“Uh oh,” we’d murmur out loud. “I wonder which church is givin’ birth to a daughter church this time,” which was just a polite term for, “I wonder which family done blew their stack at the congregational meetin’ and decided to go start a church of their own in their pasture.”

But 32 members ain’t bad, like I say, if you consider Effie’s contribution of another baby to the roll ‘bout
every year or so.

On this particular mornin’ of which I’m about to tell you, we was all standin’ and a-singin’ the final hymn
before the benediction. Nobody bothered openin’ their hymn books because we knew all the verses by heart (thanks to Lucy).

Well, sir, we was a-singin’ the third stanza of that song and here comes Ruby and Kermit down the center aisle
and took their places in the second row, like as always.

We all looked at each other and whispered, “Uh oh. Looks like somebody done fergot that last night we begun Daylight Savin’s Time.”

So, we all watched 80-year-old Ruby and Kermit stand there and sing their little hearts out on the fourth
stanza, just a-lettin’ ‘er rip!

“Stan-DINNNNNN’! Ah’m standin on the promises of God.”

We was all a-grinnin’ like possums from ear to ear when Ruby and Kermit sat down! They was all prayed up and ready for the sermon to begin.

But the rest of us was still a-standin’ and preacher Miles raised his arm out over the congregation and says, “Now may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and give you peace. Amen. Go with God.”

Well, sir, I’d give all the money I made from molasses last year if you coulda seen the expressions on Ruby’s and Kermit’s faces. They looked at each other and just had no idear what on earth was a-happenin’. “Are we a-losin’ our minds?” they wondered. “Is our church about to split again with people a-leavin’ before the preachin’ even gets started?”

They saw people movin’ out of their pews an’ a-headin’ for the door! What in heaven’s name?

Suddenly, every single person in the church just busted out a-laughin’. I mean they bent double, because Ruby an’ Kermit still didn’t have not even one clue about what was a-goin’ on.

Finally, our preacher, bless his heart, went over to them, reached down and patted Kermit on the shoulder.

“Kermit, I believe you and Ruby forgot that Daylight Savings starts today. I bet you didn’t set your clocks ahead, did you, because the church service is over now, it’s not just beginnin’.”

A big sigh of relief settled over both their sweet ole leathery faces and they laughed with relief. They
weren’t a-losin’ their minds after all and the church wasn’t splittin’.Praise God for that much!

The preacher, tryin’ hard not to make Ruby and Kermit look foolish said, “Folks, the Bible says, ‘They all went out singing.’ Let’s do that this morning. What shall we sing, Lucy?”

“The Old Rugged Cross,” Lucy said (as we all groaned)

“How about one of the other 4 songs we know,” the preacher said with a grin.

So, after we hugged on Ruby and Kermit, we all went out a-singin,’ “Blest Be The Tie That Binds.”
Because those blessed ties do bind fer certain.

Well, that is, unless somebody done gets mad at the next congregational meeting and starts their own
church. (wink wink)


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This article has been read 794 times
Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood03/15/07
What a totally delightful story! I especially loved the mountain dialect. Could just see and hear all those old-timey country folks having fun with the old couple who showed up late!

I also loved the opening, as well as the unusual title. "Just four hymns." Made me curious as to what those were--and realized I knew every one, since all four mentioned are favorites at both nursing homes where I go to sing hymns with my resident friends.

I felt I knew all the characters. Great job!

Marilyn Schnepp 03/15/07
From them thar hills comes this delightful story! Only one song is a missin'..."What A Friend We Have In Jesus" twasn't in them favor-ites! Loved the accent, the story, the light comical wit. Good storyteller I'm a thinkin! Kudos!!! with three (3) exclamation marks.
Julie Arduini03/16/07
This was a fun romp through a country church. Great characters, amazing dialogue, wonderful humor. I loved this!
Lynda Schultz 03/17/07
I loved the satire, too! Good job.
Donna Emery03/18/07
This was a fun story and I could easily imagine this close-knit congregation. I've known servants like ole Lucy. Nicely written!
Myrna Noyes03/20/07
Your fascinating title drew me in, and your charming story kept me eagerly reading until the last word! Your piece had a wonderful sense of humor and just the perfect "atmosphere"! Terrific job! :)
Jacquelyn Horne03/21/07
Loved this! Most of us have probably been in Ruby and Kermit's shoes once in our life. This was just a cute rendition of humans period. Well done.
Sara Harricharan 03/21/07
Too funny! I was laughing all the way through this. Loved the style too. ^_^