July 07, 2019 - #4686 Music & the Spoken Word

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Conductor: Mack Wilberg
Organist: Andrew Unsworth
Announcer: Lloyd Newell
With special guest Vocal Majority

“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”1
Music: German hymn tune
Lyrics: Joachim Neander; translated by Catherine Winkworth
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Holy, Holy, Holy”
Music: John B. Dykes
Lyrics: Reginald Heber
Arrangement: Arthur Harris

“Little David, Play on Your Harp” (organ solo)
Music: African American spiritual
Arrangement: Andrew Unsworth

“How Great Thou Art”
Music: Swedish folk melody
Lyrics: Carl Gustav Boberg; translated by Stuart K. Hine
Arrangement: Stuart K. Hine; adapted by Jim Clancy
Featuring Vocal Majority

“I’ll Walk with God” from The Student Prince
Music: Nicholas Brodszky
Lyrics: Paul Francis Webster
Arrangement: Pete Rupay
Featuring Vocal Majority

“All Creatures of Our God and King”
Music: German hymn tune
Lyrics: St. Francis of Assisi; translated by William H. Draper
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

1. On the CD America's Choir.

The Spoken Word

In Harmony with Others

There are many things in life that can be done alone. You can play a piano alone—or a violin, a guitar, or any other musical instrument. You can sing a solo, give a speech, or recite a poem alone. But then there are other things—some of the most beautiful—that simply can’t be done alone. For example, you can’t sing barbershop alone. Barbershop singing, by definition, involves joining with others in vocal harmony. It’s about music, but it’s also about community—about working together to create a thing of beauty.

Many historians trace the history of barbershop singing to the 1880s and ’90s when African American musicians started adding multipart harmonies to popular contemporary songs. Over several generations, a unique style emerged, and the unmistakable sound we know as barbershop began to take shape.1

How do you describe that sound? It isn’t easy. Some would say you have to experience it. As one barbershop singer said, “When you’re singing, the sound around you is incredible. You feel like you’re being carried away with it. It’s absolutely inspiring. . . . The chords ring and you feel like you’re being swallowed up by the music itself.”2

For many barbershop singers, the music is only part of the experience. Relationships, to them, are inseparable from the sound. It’s friendship, as much as music, that keeps them singing. One expert has written that “barbershoppers feel a strong fellowship—a wave of warmth and friendliness—when they sing together. An important facet of the fun and personal enrichment gained from barbershop singing . . . is its camaraderie.”3

Something magical happens anytime people come together with a shared passion. Whenever they have a sincere interest in doing something meaningful and a heartfelt willingness to cooperate rather than compete, they accomplish things that would not be possible if they were working alone.

No, you can’t do barbershop alone, and you can’t do life alone either. We need each other. We need friendship and fellowship. We all do better—we all live happier and more peaceful lives—when we are in harmony with others.

1. See “Roots of Barbershop Harmony,”

2. In Robert A. Stebbins, The Barbershop Singer: Inside the Social World of a Musical Hobby (1996), 64.

3. Stebbins, The Barbershop Singer, 66.