Roy Falls at Norris' gravesite

Roy Falls at Norris' gravesite

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

MUSIC AS IT WAS

The newer generation cannot fully appreciate the difference between traditional hymnology and the modern day contemporary music heard in most churches.  The Norris legacy cannot be complete without an understanding of the difference between the two.

The spiritual atmosphere of by-gone years was greatly enhanced by a different kind of music from what is heard in this modern era.  My father's account of cherished memories has led me to pursue an appreciation of classical hymnology.  Having studied under Ms. Ozella Oliver Jeffus, who was a contemporary of Brooks Morris, has provided a foundation of my musical appreciation. 

Brooks Morris founded the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in 1925, and as a loyal devotee of the First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, Dr. Norris appointed him as the music director of his church ....there could not have been a more perfect association.  As an added bit of information, Lela Rogers (mother of actress Ginger Rogers who danced with Fred Astaire) was appointed as Executive Director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in 1929. 

My father, Roy E. Falls, used to tell me stories about how my family and Mr. Morris would almost always go (after church was dismissed) to the old "Toddle House" for hamburgers.  This little tidbit no one has ever before known about, until now......just me and my family....but, there's more to the story.  Both my father and mother were so captivated by the music (lead by Brooks Morris) in the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Tx......they were determined to give me the finest classical music lessons.  As a child, music was "my life".  Many years were spent with Ms. Jeffus and at home sitting down at the family piano and singing, along with dad and mom, all our favorite hymns we knew and loved.  Unbeknownst' to me, my parents had instilled in me a most precious gift for life....a true appreciation for "real" music...music that I played and still play on my piano.......and that music came with a huge dividend....100's of hymn verses and choruses that I had memorized all throughout those early years...as a result of playing every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night in church.  And not least will I forget lugging our old pump organ which I played under the tents in those grassy fields during those blazing hot summer months.  And today, that is the music I love...early hymns, played and sung like those in the old First Baptist Church of Fort Worth.  That certain form or style I have never forgotten or veered from.

My father and I are in the process of putting together our first CD....old hymns that some of you may remember from way "back when".  The hymns we select are not only beautiful music, but have a beautiful message and a story to tell....and it appears to me, maybe as a coincidence, the older the hymn the more beautiful...so, as you might imagine, through the years I have searched for unusual, pretty hymns that I believe need to be brought back and made new again...and of course, sung and played as they once were.  The music may bring you "back in time".....if not, it will captivate your heart.  Our best hope is that when you listen, you will be able to imagine it coming over your radio from "long ago"....from the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Tx., under the direction of Brooks Morris.

Great hymns of the faith always accompany great revivals.  But contemporary (bourbon street music) can never supplant hymns of the likes of Fanny Crosby. 

Thank you,

Gail Hawkins

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