What’s your earliest musical memory?

Do you remember the first time you heard or were conscious of otherwise experiencing music? I don’t know if what follows is indeed my first musical memory, but it surely ranks near the very earliest. My first church memories, after graduating from the elderly Miss Hattie in the kindergarten room and moving into the sanctuary during worship, were about the sound of worship; particularly, the songs.

It was a small church, very old, with very high ceilings and hardwood everything. The sound in the place made everything more crisp and defined and reverberant. When we would sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” and get to the part about being “around the glassy sea” I always listened with extra attentiveness. All those “s” sounds positively sizzled! I’ve been disappointed for all the years that followed that in no other building has that old standard of the hymnal sounded as good. And then there was the mysterious…the unknown word.


What is “shalping”? In the “Gloria Patri” where we sung…

“As it Was in the Beginning,
Is Now and Ever Shalping;
World without end, Amen, Amen.”

(NOTE: For those of you unfamiliar with this song, what was really being sung was “Shall Be”.) Anyway, I was positively baffled about this “shalping” until probably the middle of my adolescence. What, after all, was shalping. Were we supposed to be doing it? Was there anything wrong if we were doing it (probably not since we were singing about it in church). So just as many another kid, and let’s face it, adult, thinks they’re hearing one thing when quite another is being sung, I will never forget as long as I live that one of my earliest lyrical memories was that I happily sang a puzzle. And by the way, my grown children still look at me and grin as we sing it.

And yes, they sing “shalping”.

4 thoughts on “What’s your earliest musical memory?

  1. Well brother, you really got me to thinking and brought back a flood of memories of the role that music has played in my life beginning at a very young age and carrying me all the way to the present day. I can also remember singing in the old church in Washington . . . listening to the little choir where Mama sang as an alto . . . listening to Miss Hattie singing the hymns at the top of her lungs, and not a note on key anywhere that I could tell, but even then I knew that she was making a joyful noise to the Lord. I remember earning a solo in the 5th grade Christmas program at school (Away in a Manger) after never having sung in public that I can remember and Mama saying “I had no idea you could sing like that.” I also have such wonderful memories of the jam sessions that were held in our living room with Mama playing the piano, Daddy on his guitar, Mr. Shorty and his older son, Ivy Bennett, and the lady who sang along. I don’t remember if I was doing any singing along with her at that time, but I do know that I can sing along with every Patsy Cline song I hear even now because of those wonderful times. Thank you brother for the question that brought back all these wonderful memories. 🙂

    • Wow! I had forgotten about Ivy Bennett and the lady who sang along, and about Shorty’s son. Thanks for bringing them back to mind. We do indeed have a very rich musical heritage and I’m glad that this little exercise has brought it all back afresh.

  2. And you can write well, too. Why am I not surprised? Nice blog beginnings. “City of Gold, ” Sarah Emily. We all loved it.

  3. Do you remember when we would listen to that wonderful CD, Golden City, full of poems, John Bunyan quotes, and jazz? All the songs were about heaven, and Isaac, who wasn’t even two, would sing, “Take me down to the river of life where I will ‘nurse’ no more.”?

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