On June 9, three generations of descendants of Mary Ellen Hendricks Blalock (my great-grandmother) were invited to the chapel at the Air Force Village Military Retirement Community and the Protestant Church to celebrate the music she wrote. This all came about because my cousins, Sharon and Diane, who are busy planning our annual Blalock Family Reunion wanted to present us with a special surprise. While the initial goal was simply to create an audio recording, we were ultimately treated to a special performance that would help preserve our family history. Though we are all aware that our great-grandmother wrote these church hymns, none of us recall ever having heard them performed. There are five known hymns: O Beautiful Heaven, I’ll Walk With Jesus All The Way, He Is The Lord Of Love and the two that the High Flight Chapel Choir performed, Our Precious Lord Is Coming Soon and Keep Me Near Thee, Blessed Savior.
She married my great-grandfather in 1902 in Comanche, Oklahoma and had six children. They traveled to Texas in 1909 as part of the Simmons Land Project in a covered wagon. My great-grandfather, Alfred, was a piano tuner and music teacher by profession and Mary played both the piano and the violin. (I wonder if he taught her?) Mary passed this talent on to my grandfather and my great aunt, Sylvia—two of the five children who lived to adulthood. I don’t think it’s quite clear when the hymns were put on paper, but it has to be somewhere between Mary’s birth in 1880 and her death in 1975. Yes, she passed away when she was 95. You can read more of my family’s history here.
Preserving Family History
This was a pretty special moment to me… getting to hear the music my great-grandmother wrote. I’d like to thank the choir director, Tony Bir, special members, Tom Bir and Clare Carrillo, and and the entire HFC Choir for taking on this special project! It was music to my ears… literally.
Here’s the video I captured on my DSLR of the live performance. I’ll have to apologize in advance for the constant clicking sound. That is my camera trying to focus and I was unaware the microphone was picking up that sound during the recording. While I’ve nearly mastered still photos on the D7000, my cinematography is lackluster at best. If you want to skip straight to the performance, fast forward to about 2:39 on the video.
June was a good month for preserving family history! You can read about the special mementos my aunt sent me from my mother’s baptism here.
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I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!