Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Certain experiences call up distinct memories, transporting you instantly to a time and place long forgotten. Oddly enough, the doxology did that to me the other day.
For those of you unfamiliar with the doxology -- in this case the Gloria Patri, or lesser doxology -- it is a brief expression of praise to the Holy Trinity used in many traditional Protestant and Catholic services. Let loose with a hearty doxology around any random group of worshipping Christians and chances are they'll be able to hum the tune and possibly catch some of the words before you finish. You could even call it a drinking song if communion is being served.
Having grown up in a family of Methodists (we drank grape juice instead of wine), I sang the doxology every Sunday when I was a kid. So, it came as no surprise I didn't need to read the lyrics from the program the other morning when the doxology popped up in the Presbyterian service we were attending. Twenty-plus years of Methodist training took over and I bellowed the Gloria Patri to the best of my ability. Unlike the Lord's Prayer that changes slightly from church to church -- seriously, why can't everyone just use the word "trespasses?" -- the doxology was played exactly as I remembered it.
I had the pleasure of revisiting the old church a couple months back when I traveled to New York on business. Rather than waste the lunch hour sitting in some fast food chain, I drove to Hempstead and wandered in through the main doors of the newer building near the small office. Immediately, I was eleven years old, fully expecting to see my Grandfather rounding the corner from the old social hall, his full head of hair slicked back and a broad smile stretching under his bulbous nose.
© 2011 Mark Feggeler