Monday, July 3, 2017

Patriotism and praise punctuates 4th of July Weekend event

A resounding prelude of brass, woodwinds and strings, soon joined by some 150 voices in a choir and then a few thousand throughout the sanctuary singing "America the Beautiful," launched a 4th of July Weekend celebration of praise and patriotism at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City.

While soul-stirring music bookended the two-hour presentation Sunday, the emotional highlight was when the orchestra played songs of the various branches of the armed forces, and an estimated 450 men and women who are serving or have served flooded the aisles in a stream of red, white and blue to come forward and each receive special a Medal of Gratitude. A prolonged, thunderous ovation accompanied them.

Medal of Honor recipient Sammy L. Davis's brief but powerful remarks regarding his service in Vietnam, helped punctuate the bravery and sacrifices of those who have served in the U.S. military to safeguard the nation's freedom and values. He ended with a harmonica solo of "Shenandoah" that conveyed a heartfelt message beyond words.

The hosts were musicians and worship leaders from Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City, led by Larry Harrison, who came on board as pastor of worship ministries last August. The connectedness of Crossings' leaders to the community, music and ministry far and wide was on display all evening.

Award-winning Christian recording artist Sandi Patty is now the artist-in-residence at Crossings, where her husband, Don Peslis, is pastor of chapel worship and they have been members more than eight years. Patty sang several selections from her enduring career that fit the occasion, including the soaring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" that catapulted her from gospel recording star to national sensation after she performed it July 4, 1986, in New York City at the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.

Also featured was the Alabama-based male vocal quintet Veritas, with stunningly beautiful performances of "Amazing Grace," "Bring Him Home" and "The Lord's Prayer."

A video message from U.S. Senator James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, highlighted the theme "God Bless America -- America Bless God." The theme also was articulated in a song co-written and performed by Harrison.

For the finale, Patty and the orchestra began with the less-familiar first verse of "God Bless America," with the choir, all the guest singers and everyone in the sanctuary joining in for the tradition lyrics, in an aural explosion of patriotism and praise. 

Below are the lyrics to "America Bless God," which I found online in the linked post from 2004. It said it could be shared freely.

America Bless God

by Larry Harrison & Joel Mott 

From the mountains of majesty

to the amber waves of grain

I see the blessing of your hand

and recall a familiar refrain

We sing God bless America

won't you come and bless us once again

But your heart longs to hear

a nation fall on its knees and say

America Bless God

all across the fruited plains

America Bless God

lift your voice and praise his holy name

For he's been good, he's been faithful

by his hand our nation stands

So won't you sing all across this land

America bless God

America bless God

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