Twenty years ago, after a year and a half of singing at Bryn Mawr and informal gatherings, we sang at Friendship Village for an actual ‘paycheck’. Of course, as today, the money was really for a mission fund at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, but we still knew we were crossing a threshold into a new age for the group. We had just picked a name; before this concert we had simply been “The Bryn Mawr Men’s Chorus”. We chose “The Cedar Lake Seven”, because our church is on Cedar Lake Road and, although there were eight singers at the time, we liked the alliteration.
We put on jackets (if you book us today, don’t get your hopes up for the jackets!), pants with creases, and even combed our hair (if you book us today, don’t get your hopes up for me having any hair left to comb!)
The concert was wonderful; we love going to Friendship Village and have since been back many times. Afterwards, we were so pleased with ourselves that we posed around the poster that had been made with the check in hand.
I enjoy looking through the file folder of pictures and memorabilia from across the history of the CL7. The group is a wonderful blessing in my life, and seeing these old things is a great reminder of just how long I’ve been allowed to be, in the words of Bill Gaither, making music with my friends.
Advent is a time of waiting. The word “advent” itself means “waiting.” Aside from the theological implications of waiting for the savior to be born, this time of year always finds me waiting for that moment when it feels like Christmas. Sometimes Christmas arrives at an unexpected moment in mid-December, sometimes when a congregation holds flickering candles in a darkened sanctuary and sings “Silent Night” to close a Christmas Eve service, sometimes when I go to see my family between Christmas and New Year’s, sometimes not at all. Past attempts to make Christmas show up have been unsuccessful. This year I’m still patiently waiting.
I get glimpses of God’s love from time to time. One glimpse from this past year has managed to lift me up in times of despair and to challenge me out of my own comfort zone. I hope it does something for you and your journey. It started in September when I bought a used car.
The Cedar Lake Seven was asked to sing a couple of pieces for the dedication of the Garden of Hope and Healing. The new Garden is on the grounds of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian, and is in remembrance of the victims of the shooting at Accent Signage.
Here we are covering the Wood Brothers’ song “One More Day”.
The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area had formed a ‘sister’ relationship with the Trans-Danubian Reformed Churches of Hungary, and when a Hungarian delegation was visiting Bryn Mawr Presbyterian, the CL7 sang for them. That turned into an invitation to tour Hungary and perform six concerts in seven days at churches throughout the western half of the country.
Our hosts were wonderful, the countryside beautiful, the wine plentiful. I came to believe the National Animal of Hungary is the pig, because every meal had pork of some sort – hocks, hams, sausages. Each meal was better than the one before.
We sang for schools as well as for churches, and language proved to be no barrier. I think most everyone in understands a little English, and many have a much better grasp of grammar than me do. When we went to those places we usually went camping with our gear from Survival Cooking.
One of our favorite memories is the concert at the school in Papa. We arrived and the large hall was cold and quiet as a tomb. We had met no one at the facility except the janitor who had let us in. We set up the equipment, and changed into our concert clothes. Still, no one. There we were, at five minutes before the concert, sitting in the empty hall, feeling sorry for ourselves, when suddenly a bell rang, the doors burst open and what felt like every teenager in Hungary poured into the place. The main floor filled, the balconies filled, the kids were excited – it was electric. At one point, I remember that John, our guitar/tenor, was aiming his guitar gun-like at the audience as if he was in a hair-metal band; well, a hair-metal band that plays gospel. Greg got interviewed for the local TV news.
All in all, a great trip. I hope we make it back someday!
No matter our intentions each year to head out of town for a weekend in autumn for a planning retreat it’s easier said than done. But the stars are lining up this year and we’ll be heading back to Marion, Iowa, in November. First Presbyterian will be hosting us as they did in 2008.
When we brought out our 2009 CD, Singin’ With The Saints, we included a great song by Terry Smith, called Far Side Banks of Jordan. The song was perhaps most famously done by The Carter Family on the soundtrack for the movie, The Apostle.
To pay our royalties to the author, I went to the registration office and was told I needed to pay directly through the publisher. I went to the publisher and, you can see where this is going, was told I needed to pay through the registration office. I put it on my list of things to do later, and unfortunately forgot about it.
Our 2014-2015 season recently ended.These last few months have been memorable, and not always for the best of reasons. Despite everything, both the good and the difficult, we are continually reminded that we are blessed.