“Standing, standing ,Standing
on the promises of God my Savior.
Standing, standing, I’m,
standing on the promises of God.”
~R. Celso Carter, 1886
small country church my mother grew up in and my grandmother still attended. On
a good Sunday there were probably 20 people there. My memory is not of a small,
sad church but one that was vibrant and alive. The minister served several
churches and rotated Sundays, so some weeks there was only an opening time of
prayer and hymn-singing and then Sunday School. It was always a warm, inviting
place, a community of people held together by a common faith, a shared life.
Most were folks who worked or had worked at the brickyard down the road, men who
walked together in the morning and home again at night. My mother talks of
walking with the women noon, carrying my grandfather’s lunchbox, as the women
went to eat lunch with their husbands.
“Standing on the Promises” was a
hymn often sung on Sundays. It was accompanied by Ivola on a piano not often
tuned. Jeannie Mae led the singing, her round body as wide as it was tall, her
voice clear with the twang of a country singer. Each verse of the hymn seemed
to get slower as we sang. As we settled into the familiar words, no one really
needed to look at their hymnals. These were songs sung not only on Sundays but
as laundry was hung, as diapers were washed, as supper was cooked.
I think now about the promises that
were the foundation of this little church: family, hard work, a simple life, an
unquestioned faith. When Sunday rolled around, there was no work to be done-Remember
the Sabbath Day and keep it holy-just a time to stand on the promises of God.
That and a good fried chicken dinner at noon, followed by freshly baked pie and
an afternoon nap.