[Note: I published this post before reading of Andrae Crouch’s death, but now that I’ve read that he literally died yesterday, it seems especially timely.]
Last night, my mother and I sat down to watch the old Cathedrals Reunion concert (which Stowtown Records has now made available on DVD). We thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the old tenors and baritones lined up and getting their moments to shine under the proud gaze of Glen Payne and George Younce, the grand old men of southern gospel.
As they sang George’s song “Yesterday,” we reflected on the bittersweet truth in these lyrics: “Time will leave its mark, they say, upon us one and all.” We considered how many people present in the video have gone on to glory in the roughly 21 years since then. George and Glen themselves, and Roger Bennett, and even, tragically, one of George’s daughters. We thought about how Mark Trammell’s hair has now gone completely white. We thought about how even youthful Ernie and Scott are slowly beginning to show the effects of middle age.
There’s a reason why God impressed upon his people Israel the importance of memory. Memory. Create this stone marker, so that you will remember. Establish this feast, in memory. And Jesus continues this theme in the establishment of the Last Supper. “Do this, in remembrance of me.”
We must not forget. We cannot forget where we came from. The reason Ernie, Scott, Mark and the others were able to succeed with their own groups is that they never forgot. Of course they moved forward with new songs, new singers and new ideas. But the lessons and the legacy of the grand old men were ever fresh in their minds.
I sometimes get frustrated with people of my generation, even Christian young people, because I’m struck with an overwhelming sense of shallowness. In large part, this shallowness is a function of the fact that young people today seem to live perpetually in “the now.” They’re perpetually hunched over an iPhone, texting someone or watching something. If you suggest reading a book or even mention the name of a movie that’s more than twenty years old, you’ll probably get a glazed look. That’s if you can get their attention in the first place. Good luck with that.
The only way we’ll be able to preserve anything worth preserving is if we instill in our young people a sense of lasting things. A sense of great things and weighty things. A sense of things that should be remembered and passed down to their children, and their children’s children.
“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away… So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:10, 12