Seventeen years ago today, the Cathedrals walked on stage at the historic Moody Memorial Church in downtown Chicago. Broadcasted live on Moody Radio as a part of the “Friday Night Sing,” George, Glen, Scott, Ernie and Roger performed 12 songs that will forever go down in history with the Cathedrals mark on them. To have the privilege of turning on the radio that night and hearing, “Step into the water…wade out a little bit deeper…” or “I ain’t gonna’ need this house no longer, ain’t gonna’ need this house no more…” must have been priceless! Yet, because of ShowTown Records, fans of the Cathedrals can do just that and re-live this memorable evening with…Live in Chicago.
Priceless. To have a concert like this captured on recording, preserved and ultimately released, is priceless. When you think that most live recordings we encounter today are carefully planned (songs, jokes, special guests, etc.), then you really grasp how much of a treasure we truly have with Live in Chicago. It’s not just a concert – it’s a preservation of the legacy these men have left behind. One aspect of that legacy I find quite remarkable and unique, is the timing behind this recording. In August of ‘95 Roger Bennett was diagnosed with Leukemia, but this concert was TWO DAYS after his doctor told him that he was in remission! Live in Chicago was recorded Saturday, March 16, 1996, and Roger received the phone call that said he no longer had cancer in his bone marrow on Thursday, March 14, 1996! Listening to him tell it, you can hear the emotion in his voice. (Considering how fresh the news would have been to him then.) Yet, Roger’s testimony wasn’t the only healing spoken of that night. George Younce reminded the audience of the open heart surgery he had (during which his lungs collapsed for 8 hours) and how the doctors didn’t think he’d make it. As he recovered, the Cathedrals sang without him for four and a half months. Yet, there he was – singing on March 16th, giving all credit to his Savior! That night, two miracles were standing on stage. Another highlight of the evening came about in track 7, when Buddy Greene came up on stage and played his harmonica with them on Life Will Be Sweeter Someday.
On this project, you’ll hear vocals from…
Tenor – Ernie Haase
Lead – Glen Payne
Baritone – Scott Fowler
Bass – George Younce
Pianist – Roger Bennett
Basic content: “Live from Chicago, the Moody Broadcasting Network presents, the Friday Night Sing!” This exclamation by host Chris Fabry, opened the recording. The introduction (a minute and thirty seconds long) is by far the most classy, well written and well spoken one I’ve ever heard on a live recording.
2. O Come Along
Feature: Glen Payne
Message: This great song penned by Dianne Wilkinson tells of the Lord’s second coming and what Believers have to look forward to when that day arrives. While the verse speaks of the actual coming of Christ, the chorus contrasts that with what awaits us in heaven.
Other Comments: I’ve always enjoyed this number and hearing it live with just the bass and piano was a special treat! There is a turn around half way through where Roger Bennett plays a flawless piano solo (my favorite part!)
3. Step Into The Water
Feature: George Younce
Message: The message of this song is all about getting closer to the Lord. Using the word picture found in Ezekiel of the river flowing out of the throne, we may recall that this river deepened the farther the prophet waded into it. Therefore, the chorus of this song beckons us to step on in and plunge into the depths of God’s love. As George takes the first verse, the lyrics declare that Christianity needs more people who aren’t afraid to stand up for what is right, get dirty and work hard. Likewise, the second verse reminds us of the rewards that await the soul that keep their heart on the narrow way and refuses to get distracted by what’s on the right hand or the left.
Other Comments: This song came back to back with O Come Along. As I already mentioned, George was featured on the first verse and a duet of Scott and Ernie took the second. At the end of the track George began to talk to the crowd. Making special mention of Glen Payne’s 52nd year in Gospel Music, George shared how they received multiple requests that normally weren’t on their set. When he named the song that was to be next and how Glen hadn’t done it in a while, Glen could be heard in the background, “You’re right!”
4. Your Blesser Ain’t Never Been Blessed
Feature: Glen Payne
Message: Written in first person, this song is a narration about one’s love of the old classics from the church. In the first verse, we are told how much this one likes to hear the old songs that tell forth the redemption story and the mansions in heaven. By the end of the stanza, the lyric cries out, “If you haven’t ever listened to an old time singing then your blesser ain’t never been blessed!” The chorus takes us through a few of those “old time songs” that’ll bless, like; Amazing Grace, Old Time Religion, and Haven of Rest. The second verse says that the closest thing to heaven is hearing songs like that!
Other Comments: The Cathedrals have been known for their live music on stage and a few select songs performed with a track – this is one of those rare ones that had a track with it.
5. The Heavenly Parade
Feature: All Parts
Message: This old convention song speaks of how Believers look forward to joining a parade of saints in heaven that sing the praises of God through the streets of gold. The first verse points out how we dream about our true home in heaven, yet, while we are still down here we’ll proudly remain ambassadors of the King! The second verse gives the gospel message to those who haven’t surrendered to the Lord yet and beckons them to get saved so they can join the parade!
Other Comments: We all know that the Cat’s did this one acapella – that night George made special mention of how each part sings a different melody and had each one do their part individually. Glen Payne “accidentally” ended up singing all four parts! Afterwards, Glen said, “George, I never have tried to play the piano, I may be real good…” LOL
6. This Ole House
Feature: George Younce
Message: It’s a simple theme we recognize from everyday life…all the things that need fixed around the house! Yet, even though the house has served its purpose for many years the one who owns it is in no hurry to fix anything…they don’t plan on staying. Why not? They’re not going to need it, instead they plan on leaving with the angel they caught looking in the window to a place far better.
Other Comments: This was another one they sang with a track and they sang it flawlessly! George introduced the following song when the song ended.
7. Life Will Be Sweeter Someday
Feature: All parts
Message: This smooth number simply meditates on the good life we have waiting above. The first verse talks about placing all our confidence in what Jesus said and what will finally be the result of that – reminiscing with our loved ones, strolling down golden streets, and singing with angels!
Other Comments: Buddy Greene was in the audience that night and George called him up to play harmonica on this song. There’s a piano solo at the turn around where you could hear Roger slapping the piano (as if it wasn’t working) to signal the solo was to begin. The duet with the piano and harmonica live is priceless.
8. Oh What A Savior
Feature: Ernie Haase
Message: The message of this song recounts the time when as sinners, we were without hope, until the Savior was found. Reflecting on the work of the cross, the chorus praises the Savior for what He did for us. The second and last verse considers the future time when we’ll safely cross the Jordan and join the “chorus in that great city!”
Other Comments: I think we all agree that this is Ernie’s signature song – hearing him sing it on this live recording with nothing but the piano and bass guitar backing him up reminds me of why – the power in that song is undeniable.
9. Jesus Saves
Feature: Scott Fowler
Message: The lyrics of this tune play off the verse in Scripture that says if we don’t praise His name the rocks will cry out. That’s exactly what the song says too! The verses contrast the protests of the world and the silence of the Believers concerning the subject of salvation. In the second verse of the song, the rocks are ready to cry out as Scriptures say they would, but then the children of God did what they were born to do…tell the whole world that Jesus saves!
Other Comments: George introduced this song with these sincere words, “If someone came and said, Younce you’ve got one thing to say to the world, it would be Jesus Saves.” This one was also done with a track and Scott Fowler just sang his heart out on it!
10. I Thirst
Feature: George Younce
Message: Written in first person, the speaker in the verse tells of the time when they were “thirsty,” and went to the Lord asking for water. In His grace, He gave more than required, but as the lyric says, “but for this water, my Lord had to die.” The chorus considers Christ words on the cross “I thirst” and contrasts it with the thought that even though He was thirsty, through Him came the river of redemption, the creation of the sea, etc. I like the last line that states, “In His great thirst – He brought water to me.” The second verse talks about the river that flows from the throne of God, yet, that same river dwells inside Believers with mercy and love. (The reference to the river flowing out of the throne of God, I believe, is talking about our redemption).
Other Comments: I loved hearing this song “done live.” With just the bass guitar and piano, the ballad had a mellow delivery – which was just what it required. On the last chorus, Ernie sang the lead and George added some add lib as the other guys sang.
11. Because He Lives
Feature: Glen Payne
Message: With the Gospel message depicted in the first verse and the refrain a chorus of hope, this song tells of how the Savior came to live on this earth, die as a payment for our sins and rise again to give us a reason and a purpose to live each and every day.
Other Comments: They didn’t sing the whole song, just a verse featuring Glen and one chorus to sum it up. Yet, it fit – the evening was beginning to wind down and just a portion of this song was enough to communicate its full message. Short, sweet and powerful!
12. Roger Bennett’s Testimony
Feature: Roger Bennett
Message: This was the portion of the concert where George called Roger over to share his story with the audience. He began with his diagnosis and shared the personal growth he experienced with the Lord through that valley and the things he learned through that experience. Finally, he ended his testimony with the good news that that Thursday, he was said to be in remission. He summed up his testimony with the story behind the next song, which he wrote with his wife Debbie.
Other Comments: This is my favorite line from the whole track…“God is worthy to be trusted.” – Roger Bennett
13. Don’t Be Afraid
Feature: Ernie Haase and Roger Bennett
Message: Just as the Lord told His disciples to have no fear on the stormy seas, He speaks the same to His children today. That scene on the raging sea is the setting for the first verse, where the disciples cry out to their Lord. The chorus tells us the Lord’s simple answer, “Don’t be afraid,” and reminds us that when things take a turn for the worst – God can still work miracles! The second verse is the voice of a seasoned Believer who can say, “I know how it feels to be battered and worn, yet, I know how it feels to be carried on through.”
Other Comments: The power behind this song!
14. There Is A Fountain
Feature: All parts
Message: Pointing us to the true fountain, these ancient lyrics tell sinners how to “lose all their guilty stains.”
Other Comments: Ending the concert with a hymn, the quartet sang this one verse and one chorus of this ballad acapella.