Be A Christian

“It’s sorta hokey—but interesting,” I said ambiguously, as I put the record on the stereo. I’m always ambiguous when I’m not sure of my judgment.

As the record ended my wife said, “I like it.” Self-doubt and ambivalence are not her problems.

The subject of our comments was a record received in response to my lament about the lack of singable contemporary Christian music that appeared in this space some months ago.

The album, “Be a Christian,” is the work of Mrs. Barbara Sowell, a black folk singer and wife of a Mennonite pastor. (Are there black Mennonites?)

The songs are certainly singable. One reason is that well-known tunes are used for much of the album.

In Mrs. Sowell’s hands the theme for television’s “Petticoat Junction” becomes:

There’s a mansion in the sky

In the sweet by-and-by

For the Christian.

In the Bible it is told

Heaven’s streets are made of gold

For the Christian.

It’s a land so bright and fair,

If you want to meet me there

Be a Christian.

The pop blues song “Gonna Get Along Without You Now” becomes a rebuke to the devil:

So from Adam the curse of death came to me

All because you tempted Eve

With that forbidden tree.

You’re the beginning of lies

and you’re the author of hate

And for the lust of the eyes

You use the world as bait.

I got along without you before I met you

Gonna get along without you now. (Tell the Devil) …

The old jazz standard “Sweet Georgia Brown” is baptized into “Globetrotter’s Theme”:

Let’s by the power of the Holy Ghost

Go tell Jesus saves,

Let’s get the Holy Ghost, run and tell

The world Jesus saves.

Tell them that he died for sinful men

He’ll give you vict’ry from the power of sin.

Let’s get the Holy Ghost, run and tell

The world that Jesus saves.

But my favorite among the collection is a long song based ...

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