This is the Masonic Hall in East Greenbush NY, in a photo I took this weekend. Many years ago my parents were founding members of a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in that town, and before their building was finished, the church met here, in the second floor auditorium. I remember going to this building for church, though I was about five years old when the church building was completed and the congregation no longer met here. I remember folding wooden chairs, and everyone singing.
Back on June 29 I was talking about gospel songs and my own background. We (my family) were Lutherans initially. The congregation I mentioned sang from The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941 (the "blue book") for as long as we were associated with this church. Later, in high school, my parents decided we were Presbyterians now. The Presbyterian church sang from The Hymnal of 1933, even though there were newer ones available (in fact, they only reluctantly purchased the "new" 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal, a few years after it became available).
Neither of those hymnals contain any gospel songs to speak of. But when I became involved with the Metropolitan Community Church in the 1980s, somehow I knew some of the gospel songs that were a large part of their repertory. Not a lot of them, but some. I even knew, for example, that Blessed assurance was a favorite of my mother's (raised Catholic, then Lutheran - again, without that gospel song history). But I don't remember how I knew them, since they weren't sung in either the Lutheran or Presbyterian churches, not being included in those hymnals. It's only since I've been writing this blog that I started to wonder.
So I stopped by this building a few times when I was in East Greenbush this weekend. Unfortunately, there was no one around, and the place was locked up tight. But looking through the front door, it looks like not much has changed in the last 50 years. The foyer seems untouched, looking (I think) much like it did in 1930 or so when the building was new.
I have a feeling that if I had gotten inside, I might have found a dusty closet somewhere with a pile of non-denominational hymnals of some sort, the kind that might have been used in community gatherings 50-75 years ago. Surely the Lutherans wouldn't have had a set of "blue books" right away after their church was established (even though they may have gotten them before their own building was completed). In the meantime, they must have sung from something, and it seems to me that this might just be from where I remember that handful of gospel songs. I'd like to come up with some way of proving it, but maybe this is close enough.
P.S. the title of today's entry comes from here. ("Brain" is not a word used often in hymns.)