Father, I Stretch My Hands To Thee

Here’s a wonderful old song of the church that seems appropriate for this Father’s Day morning.  I like this cut for three reasons; 1.) it doesn’t ramble on and on and on, 2.) it is performed beautifully by a college choir, and 3.) it is a selection from the great African American Heritage Hymnal, a wonderful resource for churches and individuals alike.

 

  1. Father, I Stretch My Hands to Thee Morgan State University Choir 5:13

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Wonderful Is Your Name

Not sure why I haven’t posted this song before; it’s a Hezekiah Walker classic. The song was written by Professor Melvin Crispell, a great Brooklyn born gospel composer/musician who died at age 46 in 2014.  Both a musical and textual tribute to him is provided below. Sadly his talented wife, Tunesha Crispell, a great gospel singer herself died of cancer two years later.

 

  1. Wonderful Is Your Name Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Choir 5:51

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And here is an organ tribute to Melvin by organist Cory Henry.

  1. Wonderful Is Thy Name Cory Henry 5:03

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On Thursday, May 29, 2014 gospel music and truthfully music at large, lost one of the most prolific musicians and composers of our time. Professor Melvin Crispell has died.

In music circles, jazz and gospel especially, to be dubbed a “Professor” is a title of the highest honor because it doesn’t just mean you’re good or even great. There will always be good and great musicians, songwriters, etc. But there’s something about being deemed so great that other greats want to learn from you. Think about it. There are a finite number of keys and pedals on an organ or piano. And after years of existence, one would suppose that with this limited resource at some point it would be almost impossible to create a unique or specific sound that had not already been heard or created. People have been playing and composing music for centuries before Melvin Crispell was ever born. Surely, they’d played or discovered every note, chord, and progression there was to find. But every now and then, someone comes and breaks the limits off of an instruments limitation. They miraculously discover infinite possibilities inside of a finite construct. I feel like I’m using big words and sounding rather lofty because I’m struggling to properly communicate the grandeur of his gifting. Very few people could take an instrument or a musical art form that had existed for so long and managed to elevate and shape a unique sound that influences its style and musicianship to this day.

One would think that after accomplishing such a feat that there would be no room for humility. But this was the foundation of Melvin’s genius and what made “Professor” such an appropriate title. Musicians and composers borrowed from the sound he created and with a level of grace not seen in people of his stature, he taught them how. Melvin and I weren’t extremely close but because of our close musical circles I was blessed to be around and close to his work many times. As a choir music lover (expert, lol) I knew his entire catalog and there was something so fascinating about watching HIM play HIS songs. And the most honorable part of getting to watch him work was watching him teach. He didn’t keep it to himself. He was always sharing with his contemporaries and aspiring musicians alike.

I’ll Fly Away on Hammond B3

 

“I’ll Fly Away,” written by Albert E. Brumley in 1929, is a hymn most associated with American Baptists and the Church of Christ. It is an optimistic song about an earthly death that leads to everlasting life in glory with Christ.

“I’ll Fly Away” has been called the most recorded gospel music song, beginning with a recording by James and Martha Carson, the “Barn Dance Sweethearts” of WSB Atlanta, in 1946, followed two years later by the Chuck Wagon Gang in 1948

 

  1. l'll Fly Away Stanley Wilder 3:09

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Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Chorus
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
I’ll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)

Chorus

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)

 


 

I Won’t Turn Back

What a great morning I’ve had and it is only 8:30AM.  For the past hour I’ve been nosing around YouTube for new material to post to this blog, and I’ve found some music I really like.  A lot of what I found is more Hammond B3 solos. I WON’T bother you with all that…yet.

Instead, here is a chestnut from the heydays of the mass choirs, 1991. The Mississippi Mass Choir not only was a masterful group of singers, but they also supplied Malaco Records a huge supply of material to sell.  No wonder; they were founded in 1989 by Frank Williams, a member of The Jackson Southernaires and an executive in the gospel music division of Malaco Records! Brilliant idea Frank!

 

  1. I Won't Turn Back Mississippi Mass Choir 3:58

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If We Faint Not

Rev. Gerald Thompson was the son of a minister and was Pastor of Greenwood Missionary Baptist Church, Lamar, Miss. He sadly died young at age 52 in 2013.

 

  1. If We Faint Not Rev. Gerald Thompson & The Hi-Prayz Crusade Choir 6:39

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