The Old Sanctuary

When I walked into this place today--
I hadn′t been here since
Me and the vocal band were in the auditorium--
And this place reminds me of my home church a little bit.
Not all the decor and stuff,
Not quite.
But the seats!
I remember our shouting Baptist church
Back home in Texas, man.
They had those kind of seats.
Didn't have pews.
Had individual seats.
And it was a fan-shaped church
Which I think is kinda cool,
′Cause everybody's closer to the preacher.
On those long, skinny churches you can be way on back,
Back, way on back.
But our church had those individual seats.
With those armrests like one's you got.
Course that meant if you were too fat you couldn′t come to our church
Or else you′d be carrying it home with you when you left.
And that seat would pop you in the rear when you stood up.
So you had to be quick.
So if you were skinny and quick you were welcome at our church.
Fan-shaped church, it was great.
Mama played the piano.
Sunday mornings, Sunday night, Wednesday night.
Every time the doors were open,
The Lowry family was at church
And our piano wasn't off in another room or to the side.
Our piano was right slap dap behind the pulpit.
And Mama loved to play that piano
And look at people.
(Laughter)
She′d be playing,
"Oh victory in Jesus
My savior forever."
I'd be up in the back row of the balcony.
I′d ask her, I'd say, "Mama, can I go sit up in the shelf?"
She′d say, "Yeah, go on."
Sometimes she'd let me.
When I was a little kid I'd grab all my friends,
I′d get up in the shelf.
I′d be learning stand-up comedy while Mama was playing the piano.
And you know, when you do concerts
They always dim the lights
And they put a spotlight in your face.
You feel like you're singing to a train.
Everybody could be real quiet and get up and leave,
You′d never know it.
Well, if they'd have had spotlights in our church
I′d have gotten a lot less whippings.
'Cause Mama could see.
I′d be up there cutting up,
Hoping she wouldn't find me.
"Oh victory in Jesus
My savior forever
And then she spots me
In the balcony."
(Laughter)
And I'm telling you what,
All she had to do was clear her throat
And I could hear it.
Above the singing I could hear it.
I don′t know why she got so upset,
Just ′cause I'd tied my suspenders together
And was using them as a bungee cord.
But she′d clear that throat
And above the singing I'd hear,
"Ahem."
I′d look down.
She'd say, "I′m gonna kill you."
And if Mama didn't find me Daddy would.
My Daddy was a deacon
And his arm could wrap around our church four times
And never leave his shoulder.
Find the back of my head, pow!
If I was real bad you know where he took me?
To the old sanctuary.
Every church ought to have an old sanctuary.
Our old sanctuary was haunted.
It had shadows of dead choir members on the walls.
He'd pop me on the back of the head,
I′d look up he′d say, "Come with me."
"Where we goin'?"
"The old sanctuary."
"What for?"
"Choir practice."
If I ever build a church though
I′m not gonna have these kind of seats,
I'm putting in Lay-Z-Boys.
I figure if you′re gonna sleep you might as well enjoy it.
With a Big Gulp holder right here.
And a remote control.

Published:

29 December, 2021