“Are you going to the Gospel Sing?” asked the lady exiting the hotel in front of me. Her question was directed to the woman walking beside her who answered, “Yes.” “Aren’t we all?” the first lady replied.
If you’re in Stanton, Missouri during Mid-October the chances are, most folks you’ll run into are going to the Gospel Sing. Whether the leaves are turned to a soft gold or the air churns with a crisp bite, when fans of Gospel Music gather at Meramec Caverns, fall has arrived in its finest form…The Lester’s Homecoming.
The very first sound to echo through the cave was a prayer of blessing on the evening and the sweet strains of God Bless America. The cave gives patriotic songs a special effect. Just think…you’re under the earth in one of the country’s natural formations singing, “From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, my home, sweet home.” It’s something you just have to experience…
The first group on stage Wednesday night was Brian Free and Assurance. The emcee, Duane Garren, sure had fun introducing them! Last year Brian was sick with laryngitis and BFA had to sing as a trio while Brian stayed on the bus. Duane teased Brian good! BFA kicked off with What a Beautiful Day (for the Lord to come again) and If It Takes a Valley. Even though that last song was released several years ago, it’s still one of my favorites! As the intro played with that Celtic beat, Bill let everyone know, “The Lord will always lead us out…” Just a Little Talk with Jesus followed and then Brian began to apologize for being sick last year. “Never in my 33 years have I had to sit on a bus in a parking lot and not be able to sing,” said Brian. “My wife kind of liked it, then I was able to talk after a few days…” lol After introducing the group they finished up their set with Tell it Like it Was, For God so Loved, their Dove Award winning, Say Amen and finally, Long as I Got King Jesus.
The host group, The Lesters was next on the line-up. This male trio from Saint Louis, Missouri began their set with a few up-beat songs: The Message of Jesus Christ, Favorite Song of All and I Am One of His Redeemed. Brian Lester took a moment to thank everyone for coming out and told how much they enjoy seeing everyone come to the cave each year. “Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to meet the new kid on the block,” Brian exclaimed, introducing their new tenor singer, “Matt Felts.” However, Brian went on to announce that the Kansas City Royals were going to the World Series and that stole all the applause from the audience. LOL Brian introduced himself and Jonathan, then sang He Didn’t Throw the Clay Away. A tune that sounded like an old quartet song, It’s Gonna’ Be Wonderful, finished up the Lesters’ set.
“Say Amen,” said Duane, “Aren’t you thankful for 25 years of that song He Didn’t Throw the Clay Away?” Duane also went on to ask the crowd if they were thankful that the Lester’s have kept extra service fees from being attached to the tickets for the sing. Every year, there are no service fees added on the concert tickets or a charge for parking. Duane also announced that next year, he will be the emcee for all the concerts in Steelville at the Meramec Music Theater! (Rosella Roberts heads up the concert series there and brings in the best artists every month!)
“Are you having a good time so far tonight?” asked Duane, “In the last 18 months this group has had three #1 songs on the Singing News Charts – The Old Paths!” A tune featuring the sounds of good quartet harmony began their time on stage; it was called Sweetest Peace Within. Keeping the tempo up-beat, they went into I’m Saved, a bass feature God’s Gonna Do the Same For You and Me and one of their #1’s, God’s Great. Their tenor, Jeremy Peace, followed with Oh, What a Savior. After receiving a standing ovation, Doug jokingly rebuked the crowd for liking that old classic and not responding to their #1 song, God’s Great. Anyway, their pianist, Josh Townsend played a solo I Saw the Light. After the product pitch and introductions, Doug asked for prayer for Tim’s 16 year old daughter who has been diagnosed with kidney failure and is seeking a transplant and donor. He also mentioned that the crowd should pray for the healing of Tim’s daughter so Tim wouldn’t leave the road and they could continue to be a “great quartet.” (I personally think that Doug could have been more sensitive to that matter and how he spoke of it on stage – certainly this young girl’s healing and finding a donor is more important than Tim taking a leave of absence from the group.) Anyway, I Woke Up this Morning Saying This Could Be the Day and Love Them All the Way to Jesus followed. Doug gave his testimony of how he found the Lord out of drug abuse and then they closed out with their popular ballad, Long Live the King.
Intermission was upon us. Afterwards, everyone returned to their seats for the second set where BFA and the Old Paths sang another quick set. Each artist only sang another three to four songs so I decided to just sit and enjoy it! We had a great evening! Nothing else quite measures up to what you feel when you’re in the cave listening to the best music in the world. If you haven’t experienced the atmosphere it brings – you are truly missing out!