When I first joined the BackCountry Worship group in February, it was very new and small and still finding itself. We’ve gained a few members since then (and lost a few), and over the past three months it’s sort of taken on a life of its own and become something kind of amazing.
I have to confess, when I first started singing with them the songs themselves didn’t resonate very deeply with me. I’d grown up on the old Baptist hymns, and that had always been my own personal conception of sacred music. The songs I was learning now were different: mostly newish stuff that plays on gospel radio or upbeat versions of hymns I’d never heard before. To me they were just words and melodies to be learned, notes to be mastered.
“Days Of Elijah” was the first ‘church song’ I loved enough to buy from iTunes for my own personal listening pleasure. I think it’s impossible not to respond to that song, I love the energy and power of it. Sometime after that I started buying all the songs our group was practicing, because it was quicker and easier for me to learn them that way and I could practice at home between meetings. Pretty soon some of the worship music was finding its way onto my regular everyday playlists, and these days the songs I sing while doing housework and gardening are more likely to be worship tunes than my old rock or country favorites.
Recently I was singing along with my newly-downloaded mp3 of “Blessed Be Your Name” when the actual spiritual sense of it hit me unexpectedly. Deeply. The profound TRUTH of it sank in: that joyful peace that comes from keeping a faithful and thankful heart no matter where your path has brought you on any given day.
There are really no words to describe how much this group and this music have come to mean to me. I look forward to our twice-a-week meetings not just just as a time to practice music, but as gathering in worship and fellowship with a handful of kindred souls who share a deep and genuine love for the One we come to honor.
The last time I blogged about them we’d just lost one of our guitarists and our male vocalist, but since then we’ve gotten a new guitarist and our prodigal singer has returned to us. I think there was an audible click the first time this new configuration got together to practice. It feels very right.
Here’s a pic Elizabeth took of us during practice before church yesterday:
My peeps. On the far left is John, a vocalist. If John were to write his autobiography it would probably fall into the horror genre, and yet he is one of the most joyful people I’ve ever met. I get the impression that his walk through the scarier corners of the Valley of the Shadow and back up into the light have left him pretty much afraid of nothing. Next to John is Susan: worship leader, guitar and vocals, and our collective moral compass whenever we lose track of why we’ve come together. Next is Annie, Susan’s teenage daughter, a delightful creature of light and life with the voice of an angel. I am fairly certain that little singing cartoon birds help Annie get dressed in the mornings. Annie occasionally gets into an odd Mood and starts flinging snarkiness in all directions; this is entertainment of the highest order. Behind Annie is Marie (bass guitar), but you can’t really see her from this angle. Marie is the still water that runs deep: she doesn’t talk a lot, but when she does it’s worth listening to. Next is Jeff, our new guitarist. Jeff is actually the one who told me I should join the worship group, way back when, but he wasn’t able to play with us himself until his employment situation changed a couple weeks ago. I don’t know him as well as I do the others, but he seems like a very likable fellow. Next is me (vocals), and heaven knows we’ve already read enough about me on this blog. Moving on we have Other Jeff. He’s not technically a member of the group, but he sat in with us yesterday and rocked the bongo. On the far left is Robert on drums. A man of few words, but his drums speak quite eloquently on his behalf. For such a quiet guy he can seriously get down with his bad self on that drum set.
One of these days I’ll get a CD of our music and post a song or two here. I’m thinking “Blessed Be Your Name” would be an excellent choice.