Saturday, September 17, 2011

Blog 72 - One Up on the Angles

       Blog 72

One Up on the Angles
Vernon M. Herron

Dedicated to
My friend
Dr. Gregory L. Wallace, Pastor
Ebenezer Baptist Church
New Brunswick, NJ

The study of angelology is interesting and fascinating. Early on, I learned that angels were simultaneously created as fiery ministering servants of God; in
existence since the foundation of the world was laid; that they do not marry nor live a family life with children; that they are innumerable, invisible, invincible, immortal, sexless, ageless and are intrigued by salvation.

Even though initially, I will briefly mention a bit about the nature, rank, attributes,  and appearances of angels, my focus is on the “upper hand” of the redeemed over angels. Scofield Reference Bible gives the following description on angels:

A Summary of Angels

Angel, “messenger” is used of God, of men and of an order of created spiritual beings whose chief attributes are strength and wisdom (2 Sam. 14:20). The word “angel” is used of men in Lk 7:24. Sometimes, angel is used of the spirit of man (Matt. 18:10). Though angels are spirits (Ps.104:4), they were not created as, nor made as sinners; power is given to them to become visible in the semblance of human form (Gen. 19:1). The word is always used in the masculine gender (Matt. 26:53); their power is inconceivable (2Ki. 35); their place is about the throne of God (Rev. 5:11); their relation to the believer is that of “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation,” and this ministry has reference to the physical safety and well-being of believers (I Ki. 19:5).

Angels observe us (I Corin.4:9) and they receive departing saints (Lk. 16: 22). Man is made a “little lower than angels,” and they are to accompany Christ in His second advent (Matt. 25:31).

An archangel Michael is mentioned as having a particular relation to Israel and to the resurrection (Dan. 10:13) The only other angel whose name is revealed is Gabriel who was employed as the most distinguished service (Dan. 8:16).

The Hymn

In 1924, Johnson  Ottman Jr. and John Sweeny produced a hymn entitled,” ‘Holy, Holy’ Is What the Angels Sing.” Read the four standards and chorus of this great declarative hymn and note, with explanation how the redeemed have the “upper hand” over angles. Shall I sing it for you? Oh, no!

‘Holy, Holy’ Is What the Angels Sing
Johnson Ottman, Jr.
John Sweeny

There is singing up in heaven such as we have never known.
Where the angels sing the praises of the Lamb upon the throne.
Their sweet harps are ever tuneful, and their voices always clear,
Oh, that we might be like them while we serve the Master here!

Holy, Holy, is what the angels sing,
And I expect to help them make the courts of heaven ring.
But when I sing redemption’s story, they will fold their wings
For  angels never felt the joys that our salvation brings

But I hear another anthem, blending voices clear and strong,
“Unto Him who hath redeemed us and hath bought us” is the song;
We have come through tribulation to this land so fair and bright,
   In the fountain freely flowing He hath our garments white.

Then the angels stand and listen, for they cannot join the song.
Like the sounds of many waters,, by that happy, blood-washed throng.
For they sang about great trials, battles fought and vict’ries won
And they praise their great Redeemer, who hath said to them, “well done”

So, although I’m not an angel, yet I know that over there
I will join a blessed chorus that angels cannot share.
I will sing about my savior, who upon dark Calvary
Freely pardoned my transgression, died to set a sinner free.

Since man is made a “little lower than angels” (Ps. 8:5), it is ironic that the redeemed have an upper hand over angels. There are differences in status, experience and message.

The Differences According To Hymn

The Angels:

In heaven (over there), angels constantly sing the praises of The Lamb (Christ/God) sitting upon the throne. They sing songs of adoration like “Holy, Holy,  Holy” and hymns of victories fought and won.

The Redeemed:

Will sing about the joy of redemption, (which the angels cannot do), a savior who died at Calvary, pardoned sin and set men free with garments made white with blood.

The contrast:

When the redeemed sing the redemption story, angels will stand, listens and fold their wings, for they never felt the joy that salvation brings.

The Declaration:

The redeemed have one up on the angels.   

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blog 71 - Meet the New Organist: A. Nathaniel Gumbs

Blog 71

Meet the New Organist: A. Nathaniel Gumbs

(This is a modification of blog 28)

Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC has a Fratelli Ruffatti Pipe Organ and a new organist. Unlike the sermon building process which generally has three points, this story has two: The Fratelli Ruffatti Pipe Organ and the new organist A. Nathaniel Gumbs. The organ is described very well in a document written by the previous organist, Monty Bennett and is used in its entirety.

Sadly, it is a rare occurrence in the life of many modern churches when they acquire a wonderful new pipe organ. Gone are the days when the pipe organ was the instrument by which a church was judged. However, we celebrate both the legacy and the vision of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church as this new Fratelli Ruffatti pipe organ is shared with the community. Part of the heritage of Friendship has always been a strong music program. From the days on Brevard Street, the Friendship family worshipped to the sounds of a Pilcher pipe organ. Moving to Beatties Ford Road, through the tireless efforts of Gerado Stroud, the church replaced the Rodgers electronic organ with a large four-manual pipe organ. Many famous organists have played that instrument as staff members, in recital and as guest musicians. The new pipe organ is not only “Friendship’s organ,” but it is for the community. The music it provides is for all. It is a unique arts presence in Charlotte, from its dulcet tones that comfort those as it plays hymns of promise to the grand blaze of sound that heralds wedding processions forward. It will ultimately bring worshippers closer to the presence of God. Mozart proclaimed the pipe organ the “King of Instruments” and it is only fitting that a house of God should have such a magnificent vehicle to worship the King of Kings.

With approximately 6,000 pipes ranging in size from ¼” to 32’, the organ is capable of a larger range of sound than any symphony orchestra. The organ is also capable of a wider range of dynamics than any other musical instrument, or group of instruments. Thanks to research and development by the Ruffatti Company on winding and expression, any musician who plays the organ installed at Friendship has a greater control over the range of dynamic expression than on any other pipe organ built in the world today, due in part to the Hyper-dynamic ™ expression shades—the first of which are installed here.

All the interior woodwork of the organ is handcrafted of Sipo Mahogany from central Africa and is finished both inside and out to furniture grade. This strong wood is selected for its straight grain, but the finishing process eliminates any warping or being affected by humidity or other climactic conditions. Wooden pipes are also made of the same wood and finished inside and out and are built with tongue and groove construction.

Metal pipes are made from either 95% pure Malaysian tin, or from tin/lead alloys of 70% tin or 50% tin. The Herald Trumpet, located on the rear wall of the church, is made of polished, spun brass. Each trumpet pipe is constructed like an orchestral trumpet with a flared bell which adds great visual beauty, but also helps with the tonal quality of the stop.

The solid cherry wood console is a marvel of modern technology. With over 225 stop knobs and over 150 pistons and toe studs to control all the pipes, it is run by several computers. A computer controlled record/playback system is built into the console and recordings may be saved via the USB port onto a flash memory stick and saved onto a computer for later editing and printing in music software.

Some stops that are on this organ that should be noted are:

SWELL 4’ Flauto Veneziano—this is a copy of an antique rank of pipes by the 18th century Venetian organbuilder Gaetano Callido and is characterized by a clean, clear sound.

CHOIR 4’ FlĂ»te d’Amour—made of solid mahagony, this stop was common in organs in the early 20th century and features a unique design and the time taken to construct it truly was a labor of “love.”

CHOIR 8’ Dulciana/Unda Maris—these soft undulating stops are purposely tuned flat from each other in the Italian manner and the slight beat that results is said to resemble the “waves of the sea.”

CHOIR 8’ Tromba dell’Amicizia—the “Friendship Trumpet”, a hooded, high pressure reed, enclosed in the Choir

GREAT 8’ Harmonic Flute—this is a copy of the Harmonic Flute that Ruffatti built for their organ in the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Fatima, Portugal.

SOLO 8’ Tuba Mirabilis—this is a replica of a 1926 WurliTzer tuba and is characterized by a rich, smooth reed tone.

USIGNOLO—the “nightingale”, five pipes submerged upside-down in oil that all play at once and replicate the sound of birds

In terms of size and cost, noted pride is evidenced that the FMBC pipe organ is the second largest in the city of Charlotte (following Calvary Church) but it is the largest musical instrument in an African American church in the nation. It is similar in size to Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church Naples, Florida and John’s Creek Baptist Church, Alpharetta, Georgia. Ruffatti’s largest organ is the instrument at Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Ca. where Robert Schuller was pastor.

According to brother Ed Holland, the Church Administrator at FMBC, the Ruffatti Pipe organ was installed at a cost of approximately 1.5 million dollars. Considering its value in glorifying God, the enhancement of worship and community, its value is more today.

Describing the organ is only a part of the story, now the second part. A church once found itself in a heated debate as to whether the church should purchase and install a “chandelier.” One ‘attempted peace-maker’ raised the question, if the church purchased a chandelier, who would play it? That settled the question. Friendship Missionary Baptist Church never had any difficulty locating an accomplished organist.

Today, our new organist is none other than A. Nathaniel Gumbs who is a native of the Bronx, NY. He currently serves as the Interim Associate Director of Music and Arts at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. Nat is a graduate of Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia where he received the Bachelor of Music Degree in Organ Performance, Excellence in Organ Award and was a student of Dr. Steven Cooksey. Recently, he earned the Master of Music degree in Organ Performance from Yale University, Institute of Sacred Music in New Haven, Connecticut, and was a student of Martin Jean. Nat has served as the conference organist of the Hampton Ministers’ Conference in Hampton, VA since 2009. He received both the Service Playing and Colleague Certifications from the American Guild of Organists.

We welcome and salute A. Nathaniel Gumbs, Interim Associate Director of Music and Arts of FMBC.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Final Words With A Spiritual Flavor (by Alene Kate Stewart McCorkle)

Blog 70

My Final Words With A Spiritual Flavor
Alene Kate Stewart McCorkle

(This is the fourth in a series of articles written by Mrs. McCorkle
 as promised in blog 67 which you should read first for background.)

I’ve been thinking hard about my final words for the last edition of the Second Ward High School NEWSLETTER. First, I thought about telling you why it is so great to belong to the Black Race. This is the greatest race on earth with experiences and accomplishments. We are not surpassed by anyone. We have endured slavery, been to outer space and now can identify with the President of the United States of America who in my opinion, is the most important person in the world..
I am omitting sports, music, art, inventions, etc. It used to be, lets get a foot in the door first, now it is getting a toe in. You already know about these things. So, I have turned my thoughts to other things you may know about as Christians. I am giving you a list of spiritual telephone phone numbers which you can use at any time. These numbers may be dialed directly, no operator’s assistance is needed, the line is opened 24 hours- 7 days a week.
Special phone numbers:
1.      When in sorrow= John II
2.      When men fail you= Ps. 27
3.      When you have sinned= Ps. 51
4.      When you worry=Matt.6:19-34
5.      When you are in danger=Ps.91
6.      When God seems far away=Ps. 139
7.      When your faith needs stirring=Heb. 11
8.      When you are lonely and fearful=Ps.23
9.      When you grow bitter and critical= I Corin. 13
10.  When you feel down and out= Rom. 8:1-30
11.  When you want peace and rest= Matt. 11: 25-30
12.  When the world seems bigger than God= Ps.90
13.  When you want Christian assurance= Rom. 8:1-30
14.  When you leave home for labor or travel=Ps. 121
15.  When your prayers grow narrow and selfish= Ps. 67
16.  When you want courage for a task= Joshua I
17.  When you think of investment and returns= Mark 10
18.  When you are depressed Ps. 27
19.  When your pocket-book is empty Ps. 37
20.  When you loose confidence in people= I Corin. 13
21.  When people seem unkind= John 15
22.  When you are discouraged about your work= Ps. 126
23.  When your self-pride or greatness takes hold= Ps. 19
24.  When you need understanding of Christianity= II Corin. 5:15-19
25.  When you need to be fruitful= John 15
26.  When you need to know how to get along with fellow men=Romans 12
27.  When you want to know Paul’s secret to happiness=Col. 3:12-17
28.  When you are dealing with fear=Ps. 3:47
29.  When you need assurance= Mark 8:35
30.  When you need reassurance= Ps. 145:15

Feed your faith and doubt will starve to death. Norma Cornett Marek wrote a beautiful poem, “Tomorrow Never Comes” which can benefit us all. Maybe you would like to read and live by it.

Tomorrow Never Comes
Norma Cornett Marek

If I knew it would be the last time
That I’d see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in tightly,
And pray the Lord your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time
That I’d see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and a kiss
And call you back for just one more.

If I knew it would be the last time
I’d hear your voice lifted up in praise
I would tape each word and action
And play them back throughout my days.

If I knew it would be the last time
I would spend an extra minute or two,
to stop and say “I Love you.”
instead of assuming you know I do.

So just in case tomorrow never comes
And today is all I get
I’d like to say how much I love you
And hope we never forget.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance
You get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you are waiting for tomorrow
Why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes
You’ll surely regret the day

That you didn’t take that extra time
For a smile, a hug or a kiss.
And you were too busy to grant someone
What turned out to be their one last wish

So hold your loved ones close today,
And whisper in their ear,
Tell them you love them very much, and
You’ll always hold them dear.

Take time to say, “I’m sorry,”
“please forgive me,” “thank you” or “it is O.K.”
and if tomorrow never comes,
you’ll have no regrets about today.

The following are scenes from the 96th birthday luncheon
Pictures by William C. Youngblood

Life After 90: What I am Doing Now

Blog 69

Life After 90: What I am Doing Now
Alene Kate Stewart McCorkle

(This is the third in a series of articles written by Mrs. McCorkle
 as promised in blog 67 which you should read first for background.)

If one lives to reach 75 or 80 years of age, his/her life is not exciting as it once was. One finds him/herself sitting at home more; missing friends who have gone the way of all the earth; trying to remember if they were going upstairs or coming down; what they went into the room to get and many other odd things. Then, some find themselves giving up their homes and living with their children; living in Assistant Living quarters; in nursing homes and some on the streets.
One thing is true, if one does not suffer from Dementia or Alzheimers, one will constantly think of one’s past life. One remembers little or big things which happened to oneself or things which one did. They all made us feel the need for a closer relationship with God. I wonder why. Perhaps, it is an awareness to the fact, that one’s days are numbered and soon after, called to a reward.
At my age of ninety-two, [now 96] , I have done some serious thinking about the past. I have come to realize that GOD has performed many MIRACLES in my life. The first was the blessing of my parents to birth another baby girl after losing the first one early in a tragic accident soon after their marriage. The second one was the unique and odd position of enrolling into grade school at age five without name and not being counted until enrollment in the second grade. The third miracle happened when I was in the fifth grade at Myers Street School. I fell from the second floor onto concrete, knocked unconsciously, but suffered no broken bones, nor ribs, and returned to school the next day.

At age eleven, the fourth miracle occurred. I was able to play the Church’s organ and help the choir. Here is the irony of it all, most of my musical education was giving to me by my father who never had a musical lesson.
Graduating from high school at age fifteen was the fifth miracle, while the sixth one was the giving of a scholarship for college by a principal who did not know me nor had ever seen me. The college was NC College at Durham for Negroes. The seventh miracle was the revelation of a cousin who learned of my plight, gave me room and boarding in her home, gave me funds and clothing the first year I was in school, now North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC.
The eighth one was my writing to two loan companies asking them for special consideration, telling them that I would make payments on my parents’ home loans after I finished college and secured a job. To my knowledge, no payment was made for the four years I was in college. After the completion of four years training and got my first job at Second Ward teaching, I paid off both loans. I urged my parents to deed the lots to my brothers who were interested in the property and who promised to repay me a portion of the loans I had assumed.
The ninth miracle was when I asked God for guidance at a time I was about to set my niece’s house afire. The tenth one was when I got stuck in an elevator in Puerto Rico and was rescued. The eleventh and final miracle was when I found myself driving a car in Puerto Rico during election time, not knowing where I was, neither knowing how to get back from whence I came. Heavy and crowed were the streets, but was rescued.
I do not remember all of the miracles I had, but there were many. If you sit and recall, you will remember ones you had long ago. Three score-year and ten have passed us all. (One score year is twenty) Be thankful.
This is my fourth article which I promised to write. Now, I can continue the thought pattern on what keeps me going at the ripe old age of 92. Please know that I engage in mental gymnastics and so must you. I play euchre, hearts, spades and solitaire on the computer. I crochet, play single and double pin chic, cook, clean, attend Sunday School and Church, pick and preserve what comes in my daughter’s and husband’s garden. In fact, I do as I please. My family is extremely kind to me.
One of the biggest things I do is the cultivation of my spiritual life. I pray not only for myself but for others. (That is called intercessory prayer.) I not only beseech God but I constantly praise HIM and give thanks. I pray and give thanks for the class of ’47 and ask His blessings upon all of your needs and more.
I love all of you even though you are grown now, I always did. I still call you my children. Be good to yourselves in your old age; keep holding your heads high; encourage those about you to do the same; pass along words of encouragement and love. May the God of Peace bless and be with you all. A-men.


The following are scenes from the 96th birthday luncheon
Pictures by William C. Youngblood