Daddy was always right. Custom and rules were for us, the underlings and nobodies of the family, and we’d best not forget it. He broke the news that some Church in the Wildwood was having a revival and we were going tonight. I never liked going to church much anyway, so this ruined my day, but wait, there was a bonus. In case that was’t bad enough, Phyliis and I were going to sing a special. For those of you unfortunates not initiated into the strange goings on of Baptist Churches back in the sixties, it was common for a slightly talented, or not, fervently religious girl to do a solo, hold the congregation captive for what could be a few miserable minutes. Presumably, she had collaborated with the choir director and pianist, so as not to hijack order of the service.
Phyllis fit the bill perfectly, and had enthusiastically sung several specials in our delighting herself, Daddy, and hopefully, at least some people of the congregation. A couple of times, he had even sprung for a new dress, so she’d really shine. In all honesty, she sounded good. Despite the fact that I wanted no part in the of it, I’d even been dragged into it a couple of times as backup, kicking and screaming. I did not sing with a joyful heart.
My heart was heavy with dread as Daddy drove manically through the back roads in search of this obscure church, throwing a fit the whole time because we’d made him late. This was standard practice wherever we went, since he’d never bother to start getting dressed till after the time he’d say we were leaving. When it was obvious we’d arrive after services started, I felt great relief,cheerfully offering, “Too bad! We won’t be able to talk to them about singing a special.”
Always right, as usual, he shot me down.”Oh yes you will. I’ll tell you when to go up and sing. It doesn’t have to be arranged ahead of time. Just be ready to go when I say. Tell the piano player you want her to play ‘How Great Thou Art’.” I gave up. We were going to be stomping up there singing like a couple of dopes.
The seven of us filled a pew as the congregation finished a hymn, and launched in to another as I waited for the ax to fall. Phyllis and I had sat on the outside so we could make our way more easily to the front when the time came. After the close of the offeratoy hymn and the collection of the offering, Daddy gave Phyllis “The Signal.” As she stood and prepared for our interjection into the service, the choir director announced a “Special,” to be sung by a saintly appearing young lady. Daddy’s face fell and Phyllis quickly sat down. The singer limped through “How Greet Thou Art” clearly enunciating “Greet,” not “Great” as we were prepared to do. I never enjoyed a song more, the hilarity of the situation not lost on me. As she finished, I stood as though I still thought Daddy expected us to sing. He reached over, grabbing my skirt tail, stopping my progress. I gave him a questioning look, as though I was confused at his shutting me down.
God is good.