The Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra from Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church celebrated the Fourth of July holiday by joining with the Chancel Choir from Greene Memorial UMC in Roanoke to perform “I Hear America Singing: A Celebration of God and Country” at Thrasher on July 2.
The Thrasher Choir is led by Minister of Music Josh O’Dell. Brandon Mock is the Director of Music and the Arts at Greene Memorial. Thrasher Pastors B. Failes and Jesse Moffitt narrated the concert. The choirs were accompanied by Alyssa Melchers, organist and accompanist at Thrasher.
Vinton Mayor Brad Grose led the audience, which filled the church, in the pledges of allegiance to the American Flag and Christian flag to open the program after the singing of the national anthem.
The program was a mixture of religious and patriotic songs, jazz, spirituals, and folk favorites performed by the joint choirs and orchestra, including “From Sea to Shining Sea,” “I Hear America Singing,” “ The Mansions of the Lord,” and a tribute to the Armed Services with the official song of each branch played as veterans of each stood to applause from the audience.
Director Mock thrilled the crowd with his performance of John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” on the organ. Soloists Floyd Boone, singing “Bring Him Home,” and Ariana Wyatt performing “Summertime” both received standing ovations from the audience.
The choirs performed a tribute to Cole Porter with “Let’s Fall in Love,” followed by the always poignant “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
The program continued with the audience participating in a “Litany for Justice,” led by Pastor Failes, celebrating God who “embraces all hues of humanity, delights in diversity and difference, cries with the masses of starving people, demands justice, deplores violence, calls for nations and peoples to live in peace, weeps at the plunder of the earth’s goodness, and rebukes the world’s warring madness.”
The music program concluded with the choirs and congregation singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” The evening ended with what Pastor Failes described as an “All-American” meal of hot dogs and watermelon in the church picnic shelter.
The performance (and cook-out) was to be repeated at Greene Memorial on July 5.