It was one of those bright, sunny, cheery days…fluffy white clouds floated along in the sky and though it was a little humid, it was still a day that could bring a smile to your face. Children laughed and bounced around the playground as the breeze tugged on the plastic table cloths at the church picnic. Alongside the old brick church sat a tan bus, and if you happened to be inside the building and take a seat in the sanctuary like I did, you may have noticed the artificial ivory clinging to the top of the walls behind the pulpit. Only, there was no pulpit…instead, two microphone stands and a keyboard alerted those casually seated in the audience that some form of entertainment would be on stage shortly. It just so happened to be, that the afternoon activity would come in the form of a Gospel group. Greater Vision.
“Without further ado, I’ll introduce to you from Morristown, Tennessee – Greater Vision,” said the pastor calmly. Gerald Wolfe, Rodney Griffin and Chris Allman squeezed on stage and began the afternoon with Come Unto Me. As the pastor mentioned before the trio came on stage, the church was having their annual picnic that afternoon. (He also mentioned that he didn’t tell us there was food out back because that’s where we’d be!) Ends up, the church members were finishing just that and the pastor went out and told them to come in and listen to Greater Vision sing or stay out there and listen to him talk! LOL So during the first song a steady flow of the congregation came walking through the doors to sit down. GV’s second song was the Redeemed Medley and Gerald teased them, “Thank you so much for coming in this afternoon. I still see people coming in so I know I’m in a Baptist church ‘cause folks are coming in late.” LOL After explaining that they would be singing both old songs and new ones, he pointed out their next one fell under the “old” category – Seeking For Me. Though this is a slow song, it sure is powerful! Gerald’s lower range and Chris’s tenor on the verses provide a great contrast! He’d Still Been God followed. “I’ve got to say this,” Gerald grinned while nodding to the back of the church, “There were some kids in this room who were just about dancing on that tune.” With that picture of innocent joy in our minds, he went on to point out that some of us older folk looked like we were in line at the dinner table and the person in front of us got the last piece of chocolate pie. Anyway, in East Tennessee where Gerald is from, they called these types of Sundays “Homecomings” and those good times reminded him of a convention song they wanted to sing called When They Ring the Bells of Heaven. After an applause he made mention of singing for the next four hours and then asked, “Would anybody really stay ‘til six o’clock?” Hands went up and Gerald grinned, “Really? Lock up when you leave…” Introductions were next and then he slipped behind his keyboard to accompany Chris on a solo, I Know A Man Who Can. The crowd responded to this ballad by applauding right in the middle of the tune! It was no surprise when they received a standing ovation. “That old man can still sing!” exclaimed Gerald, and then he introduced another song that featured Chris. In fact, it was Chris’ grandfather’s favorite song. (Who was also a Wesleyan evangelist known for breaking out in song in the middle of his own sermons!) The hymn was His Eye Is On the Sparrow. We may have only heard one voice and one piano, but the sound was so “full” and the power so evident it was amazing! My Name Is Lazarus came next and Gerald reminded the crowd that that has been their most requested song since 1998. But the ones that followed were some off their new project, “For All He’s Done.” The first song was called Preacher Tell It Like It Is. Gerald introduced it by saying, “We hear a lot of great preaching…but we hear a lot of weak preaching.” There were many pastors in the crowd and he encouraged them to stand on the truth. After Preacher (which you can watch a clip of that song from my socialcam page HERE) they featured Chris on their title track For All He’s Done.
As Greater Vision slipped off stage the pastor announced that it was time to take up the offering. After a brief prayer, Gerald played Great Is Thy Faithfulness while the plates were passed. When the offering was taken Gerald asked the crowd if they recognized that song. He continued to say that when he’s home he doesn’t walk around the house singing or sing in the shower, but, he does sit at his piano once a day and play a hymn with lyrics he can meditate on. Great Is Thy Faithfulness is one of those songs and he asked the audience to sing the chorus with him.
Before they began the second half of the concert Gerald explained why they had two vehicles with them that weekend. (The bus and a van.) The tour bus that they have had for ten years has eight hundred thousand miles on it, same engine but they have worn the interior out! So it’s going back to Nashville to get renovated while they travel in a van. “We have never missed a concert in that bus,” Gerald said. (Sounds like a keeper to me!) They ended their concert with a few more songs like Looking For the Grace, This Is Mercy and then Rodney began singing At Calvary and opened up the altar for an invitation. God Wants To Hear You Sing ended their program.
Conclusion: I always look forward to seeing Greater Vision in concert and with their new songs in the program that anticipation is twofold. One of the things I enjoy most about GV is how they keep you guessing what they’re going to say and sing. Just when you think you know the silly story Gerald is going to tell about Rodney, he pulls out a different one that makes you laugh just as much. They always have something new to say about the songs they’re singing too. The introduction to “Preacher Tell Me Like It Is” has changed every time I’ve heard it live and I like that, they keep you thinking about the message from a bunch of different angles. Finally, their set can be altered in a split second too – they were not planning on singing “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” but slipped it in half way through anyway. Though all of those things make for a great concert, I believe they make a better group in the long run b/c of their willingness to let the Spirit lead…which keeps the fans coming back for more.