Several years ago Elva Buddenhagen, of Berryville, VA, the wife of Rev. Ralph Buddenhagen and pianist for Bluemont United Methodist Church (BUMC), had a dream. Her dream was to create a music and worship event where people could come together, clap their hands, lift their arms up to the sky and sing praises to the Lord. Elva was the instigator and catalyst of the first few hymn sings, before our Lord suddenly took her home.
Sunday night her dream continued.
Judy Anderson of BUMC has picked up where Elva left off. With Judy’s guidance and meticulous attention to details, the bi-annual event (Spring and Fall) has grown into a multi-generation, multi-congregational, hand clapping, praise filled celebration of song and music. What a joy it was to have all gather at the historic Bluemont United Methodist Church Sunday evening. We sang, we clapped, we stood up, we sat down, we listened, we enjoyed, and we were filled with the Spirit.
It takes planning to assemble a successful event. As the story goes, this how the planning started. Judy was â€˜just hanging around’ the new House of Light Christian Bookstore in downtown Berryville (there are no coincidences—mind you) and she just happened to meet Andrew Davis, the leader of the Audience of One, a praise band from Crum’s UMC church. Curious, Judy went to hear them play at their weekly Saturday night worship service (every Saturday night @ 6 p.m.) Judy wasted no time in extending an invitation for them to come and be a part of the Spring Hymn sing. They said YES!
One group booked.
Next she called upon Tammy Lanham of the Berryville Presbyterian Church. She and her daughter Olivia had shared their talents with BUMC in the past, this time Tammy also brought along their Youth Bell Choir.
Now Judy had three.
From the Shenandoah Retreat, Judy invited back The Third Generation, The Largents: Max, on guitar, Shelvy on electric guitar, and grandson Gavin, on banjoâ€”maybe next time he will bring his dobro. Locals like to remind him that he played on their stage before he became a Nashville star. Tannisâ€¦you were missed.
Then from Pine Grove came Bluemont UMC, resident Lay Leader, musician and Christian song writer Mike Elsea.
The talent keeps comingâ€”next on stage we have Robbie Thompson, the gifted musician who makes playing the organ looks so easy. How well he multi-tasks on the organ, making beautiful music with focus on his feet, fingers, reading music and still managing to give the audience a smile. What talent! (I hear he gives piano lessons too).
And last but not least The Men for Christ, founded out of Bluemont UMC but now claims members from around the area including Berryville, Boyce, Bluemont, and Pine Grove to name a few. Not only to they perform in church hymn sings but they can be heard at the VA Hospital and at local nursing homes.
The music? To list a few songs: He Lives!; Leaning on the Everlasting Arms; Victory in Jesus. The Audience of One played “I’ll Fly Away” for the closing song. Needless to say by then we were all on our feet, clapping our hands and joyously singing along with the band.
“I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away/when I die, hallelujah, by and by, /I’ll fly away”
Booking complete, programs printed, spring evening cooperating, pack house, one woman’s dream carried on.