Sunday's hymn festival at Mayesville Presbyterian Church will bring back the 19th-century revival practice of tent meetings that proliferated in the western U.S. The church invites the public to join in singing some of the best-known hymns from that era that are still sung today.
The 4 p.m. festival, like the camp meetings of the 1800s, will comprise "fellowship, singing and preaching (as) delivered by traveling evangelists," according to organist and choir director Tammy Williams.
The Rev. Brian Peake will portray evangelist Dwight L. Moody, a popular preacher of the 19th century, and Mayesville Presbyterian deacon Kell Compton will have the part of Ira D. Sankey, Moody's music director. The two published several books of Christian hymns together. They will invite the congregation to sing a variety of hymns sung at the revivals conducted by Moody and other evangelists. These will include "Blessed Assurance," "My Faith Looks Up to Thee," "He Leadeth Me," "Shall We Gather at the River," "Jesus Loves Me" and several more.
Among Sunday's congregants will be several well-known hymn writers portrayed by members of Mayesville Presbyterian, Williams said. They are Angie Bland, Don Bowman, Carol Ann Compton, Rafe Dixon, Denise Josey and Rose Rhodes.
Dr. Don DuBose, also a church member, playing the chairman of a 19th-century town council chairman, will welcome Moody and Sankey to the revival. At the beginning of Sunday's program, Becky Wilson, of both Mayesville Presbyterian and Lynchburg's First Baptist churches, will provide introductory commentary, and dialogue among the characters in the program will add background on the hymns and their writers.
Singing will be led by the Mayesville Presbyterian Church choir, and Peake, pastor of the church for 17 years, will welcome friends and church visitors.
Williams said that "perhaps the most satisfying element of a hymn festival is the occasion to engage in hearty singing with a church full of other hymn lovers. Mayesville's hymn festival promises to provide ample opportunity to do just that."
There is no charge for the 4 p.m. hymn-singing program; however, donations to the church music ministry will be accepted.
Mayesville Presbyterian Church will present its fifth-annual hymn festival at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, in the church's sanctuary. A reception will follow. The church is located at 109 W. Sumter St. in Mayesville.
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