|Southside Cemetery Photo by Patty Levesque|
The Elder Choir sang the old songs, the treasured phrases,
the melodies sung and sung again, familiar as old shoes,
the elders in small rows filling in the harmony with ease,
opening hearts and letting song arise.
“How did you feel when you come out the wilderness?”
Each offers the song most beloved,
and Deacon Love at last is begged
to come forward with his favorite, “Travelin’ Shoes.”
He rises, ninety-two years old, with a little help from his wife,
sets his muscles ready,
and grins at the audience: “It’s OK to dance in church.”
His travelin’ shoes take off, up and down the aisle,
as amazed at himself as we are of him,
with his arms spread wide, ready to fly,
one more day on this Earth, singing, praising,
one more day of dancing.
And all at once, the elders from beyond,
from the hills and woods of mottled headstones nearby,
from out of the briars of the Asheville Colored Cemetery,
from the glorious heavens, they come with their starry crowns.
“No more weepin’ and a-wailin’.”
They sing with us too, the ancient ones,
those buried as slaves, in pain and hard labor,
they sing with us in glory.
“Soon I will be done with the troubles of the world,
troubles of the world, troubles of the world...”
all of us going home to be with God.
March 6, 2014
Recently a wonderful singing was organized by Cathy Riley and Olivia Metz at St. John "A" Baptist Church in Asheville, adjacent to the historic Southside Cemetery. The moving old spirituals of the Elder Choir graced us with their power and beauty. Here is a sound sample from the day:
|Gravestones photo by Patty Levesque|
|St. John "A" Baptist Church photo by Marilyn Ferikes|
|Photo by Marilyn Ferikes|