Old-Time Gospel
Greg & Lori Arthur
Sunday, June 10, 2012, 2:00pm
Music 1 - Room #102

We've been here before. Eugenia Bavousette, Lori Arthur's grandmother, in the latter days of her Altzheimers, when she no longer recognized people or spoke, on one day in the rest home, smiled and touched Lori's arm while Lori was singing to her the old-time gospel song "I Saw the Light", and said, "We've been here before."

It is true that we've been here before for the old-time gospel songs are markers of where America has been before. It is slave spirituals roots and camp meeting songs. It is music from the traditions of the black and white rural churches, the sacred folk songs of our grandfathers and great-grandmothers, when they were fiery and young, and had to endure their hardships trusting only in Jesus. It's the songs of the old saints who were well acquainted with suffering, for some were in chains, or at the Freedmans Bureau, or in company towns, on failing farms, or at the graveside. It's the music for times of trouble then and now.

This workshop will involve some discussion of the hard times, of the histories of the old songs, and of their meanings and double-meanings. But mostly it will be a time when we can sing together the old songs that make us remember that "We've been here before."

Our connection with the music goes back to Lori's grandmother who herself played guitar and sang barn dances back on the farms of New Mexico. For the past 20 years, we've continued the calling of leading the singing of these old gospel songs in prisons, at rescue missions, at festivals, and in churches, at gravesides, in living rooms, night clubs and old-folks homes.