Sunday is usually the day that hymns are sung. In Oxford, though, the senior citizens who meet at the center on Main Street enjoy singing hymns on Thursday mornings.
A few singers visit the regulars and lead the singings. They are Doris and Melvin Ford, Lumas and Wylene Dingler, Joe Hughes, and Larry and Margie Hardy. Roy Nelson plays the piano for the group, and does a fine job. His wife, Louise, joins in with the singing.
On a recent Thursday, the leaders took requests from the group. They raised their voices with “Just a Little Talk with Jesus,” “Where Could I Go but to the Lord,” and “Praise God, I’m Free Again.” Hardy signed and sang “How Great Thou Art.” I saw more than two members of the group with tears running down their cheeks, and I struggled not to shed my own tears. The music was so moving.
Some of the daily members of the center also joined in and led special songs. Retired teacher Charlotte Smith said once she was asked to in a few times on soprano and loved it so much that now she comes only on Thursday mornings. “I got hooked,” she said.
The group and their visitors usually number about 30 singers. They express their praise to God in a room lined with items they use on other days, such as board games, puzzles, and a collection of books. Tropical decorations used at a recent party lined the walls, along with a couple of sparkling red, white, and blue stars. An electric keyboard was pushed aside in favor of the regular piano.
My mother sat next to me and enjoyed singing as much as anyone. She made comments to me as she sang. “I went to Oxford High School with her,” she said pointing to a new friend. She also went to school with the Fords, and I went to school with their son David. Connections in a small town often overlap and grow denser with time.
At the singing’s end, everyone sang “Amazing Grace,” and they lifted their hands as they added a verse with only the words Praise God.
After the leaders dispersed, the members went into the nearby lunchroom to wait for their lunch to be brought in. As they waited, they talked among themselves and spoke of family members, friends, and jobs they had held.
One member, Pauline Self, said she enjoyed the Thursday morning singings.
“I don’t go to the choir at church,” she said. “I can’t get up the steps there. I sing here, and this lifts my spirits.”
Self said she recently increased the number of days she visits the center, which made her daughters happy. “This takes away the loneliness,” she said, and added that her friends felt like family members.
I came away from the singing with my spirits lifted, too, and I remembered fondly the new friends I had made. Others wishing to have their spirits lifted are welcome to come next Thursday at 9 a.m. Be careful. You too might get hooked.
Email Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org