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Out & About with Katherine: Hymn fest a big hit

Katherine Scoggins • May 29, 2018 at 4:30 PM

A lot of my time over the past few weeks has been spent working on “A Festival of Hymns: The Writers Tell Their Stories” by composer Hal H. Hopson: a formidable project involving dozens of singers/choir members, organ, piano, a small orchestra (brass, cellos and timpani), hand bells, and 13 readers/actors. I sang this work about 10 years ago with Mr. Hopson at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, then worked on it a few years later with Dr. John Wilson at First Broad Street United Methodist Church. Years passed, but the memory of working on such a fun project with so many multi-talented individuals remained in our memories.

On Sunday, May 20, First Broad Street UMC once again hosted the hymn fest at the 8:45 and 10:45 a.m. services. The choir loft was full, there was extra seating and mics up front for the speakers and soloists, beautiful flowers at the altar, and greenery and candles in the sanctuary windows. The sanctuary was filled at both services and the singing (choir and congregation) was beautiful. How wonderful it was to hear so many of the familiar hymns again: “Of The Father’s Love Begotten,” “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” “Clap Your Hands!,” “O God, Our Help In Ages Past,” “O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing,” “Now Thank We All Our God,” “Shall We Gather At The River,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Jesus Is Mine!,” “Guide My Feet,” “When We Are Living,” and “Lord Of The Dance.”

The singers (choir and soloists), speakers, musicians and clergy all did a wonderful job of providing worshipful energy and reverence. It was great fun working with good friends and making some new ones in the process, and most of all sharing a lot of laughs (especially at some of the 14th and 15th century costumes and wigs)! Thanks to Kingsport Theatre Guild, First Presbyterian Church of Bristol, Johnnie Mae Swaggerty, Minister James Peters, Junior Portillo, Robert McCrary, and to the clergy, staff and workers of First Broad Street United Methodist Church. And, of course, thanks to the wonderful readers: Dr. John Mullen, Joy Mullen, Nathan Flora, Beth Geno, Roy Geno, Zane Myers, Robert McCrary, the Rev. Jack Weikel, Mary Frances McCrary, the Rev. James Peters and Fred Himelwright. A BIG thanks, everyone, you were great!

Later that afternoon, we were fortunate to enjoy a fantastic concert by organist Justin Brueggeman. Justin, a junior at Science Hill High School and student at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, began his piano studies in 2009 in Midland, Michigan. He studied piano with Dr. Benjamin Caton, chair of the piano department at ETSU, and currently studies organ with Dr. Joby Bell, professor of organ at Appalachian State University. Justin is a member of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, the Northeast TN-Southwest VA chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and the youngest board member of the Southeast Chapter of the AGO Young Organists (AGOYO). Justin currently serves as interim organist at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Kingsport and principal organist at St. Dominic Church in Kingsport. Enjoying the concert were Milton Nelson, Gail Preslar, Josie Reid, Cynthia Lewis, Linda Murphy, Dr. John Wilson, Bob Green, and Dr. John and Nancy Siner (and children) among others.

It was a busy few days at First Broad Street. Our church orchestra gave its spring concert Wednesday night, May 16; we had a dress rehearsal for Hymn Fest Saturday morning in the sanctuary, a set-up for a wedding (also in the sanctuary), the wedding itself that evening, followed by a commissioning service, Hymn Fest, a Graduation Seniors’ Breakfast and the organ concert, all on Sunday. And, of course, there were multiple worship services as well.

It’s been a wild ride these past few weeks. I am grateful that spring has finally settled in. Scott’s strawberries are selling like crazy, and school buses are making their final routes - at least for a few months! And young campers are getting ready for new friendships and adventures. I hope all the graduating seniors have a wonderful, restful summer! And please, have a fun and safe year (and remember to call your parents)! In the meantime, I’ll be looking for you “out and about!”

Katherine Scoggins is a Sunday Stories columnist who highlights local happenings and community organizations twice a month in Out & About with Katherine. To share photos from a community event, add an event to our calendar or invite Katherine to attend, email communitynews@timesnews.net.

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