Saturday, December 11, 2010
Click on any image above to view it in larger format and/or click on the arrow below to view the video of the Plainsmen's Christmas concert.
Christmas with the Southern Plainsmen Quartet at Tinney Chapel in 2010
As soon as the Southern Plainsmen Quartet, Marcelle Slaughter, Jordan Mothershed, Allen Doyle and Mike Burkhalter, began to sing their stylized version of "Love Lifted Me," the congregation warmed up to the group on this chilly night at the quintessential country church.
As the concert program began to unfold, with Allen Doyle leading a standout version of “Sweet Beulah Land” and Jordan Mothershed leading “Heading Home,” Tinney Chapel was in the thrall of this enthusiastic example of Southern sacred group harmony, which made its second appearance here in as many years. Last year, at about this same time, many in this United Methodist congregation likely thought of John Wesley, Methodism's founder, when the Plainsmen sang "It Is Well With My Soul."
This year, let’s just say that their rousing version of “This Man Called Jesus”—a song which functions as both the Plainsmen’s theme and their testimony--compensated for any lack of direct references to the Original Methodist, John Wesley.
Marcelle Slaughter, a veteran of 32 years with this group, and the only remaining member of the original aggregation, is the Plainsmen's first tenor, or as they used to say in the old days of gospel quartets, the "high tenor," reminiscent of the sound once championed by "Sister" Loy Hooker, a much earlier exponent. In a post concert conversation last year, Slaughter admitted to remembering Hooker, but added: "That really was a LONG time ago!" And, indeed it was.
Another strong favorite of this night was "From A Star To Stripes," a song inspired by both Betsy Ross, who sewed the first American Flag, and the sacrificial legacy of Jesus The Christ, by Whose stripes we, as Christians, believe we are healed. Among the lyrics of this moving song, the Plainsmen sang: “Though there’s glory in Old Glory, it can never quite compare with the Glory of the Cross at Calvary.”
At about this same time, Marcelle Slaughter called on the congregation to honor all those in the building who have served in the military, and gave special attention to World War II veteran Woody Wilkerson, now 91 years of age, who happened to be wearing a patriotic red-white-and-blue veteran’s cap.
All this was reminiscent of last year when, during the Plainsmen’s concert here, Slaughter introduced a musical tribute to military veterans, as well as a salute to the freedoms that all Americans enjoy: "God Bless The USA," "America The Beautiful," "God Bless America," and--bringing this congregation to its feet--"The Star-Spangled Banner."
Just before taking a short break during the concert, Plainsmen leader Slaughter told the congregation how to follow the Plainsmen on the Internet:
“If you are on Facebook, we now have a Facebook page called, Southern Plainsmen,” he added.
One of the most popular numbers at this year’s Plainsmen quartet was a fast-moving song, “Getting Ready To Leave This World,” that highlighted all four harmonic parts of the group.
As the evening drew to a close, the Plainsmen sang a Christmas medley, including "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Silent Night," "O Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem," and "Joy To The World." (See separate video available elsewhere on this Weblog post.)
But, no report of this year’s concert would be complete without mention of the marvelous song, led by Allen Doyle, called “Faces,” which tells us that when we all see Jesus, one of the things He has in store for us is a kind of PowerPoint collage of all the faces each of us have influenced in some Christ-like manner during our Christian walks on this earth.
As if saving the best for last, the final song was truly memorable: "Meet Us At The Table Of The King Someday,"
It was indeed a Christmas concert to remember, and you can view a small part of it via the previously mentioned video provided elsewhere on this Weblog post.