Thoughts today during the Thanksgiving season for the Life of Nelle Clardy Hudson whose passing last year gives me pause in Thanksgiving and Praise. Nelle was Eulogized at Spruce Street Church, Nashville amidst a Choral Praise that moved me in a way that I had not known for a very long time.
I am taken to that day when William Sappe was Eulogized at Salem, Harlem during my passage there as Associate Pastor. William sang in “Four Choirs”, who processed together with two going in each direction to take the split chancel choir lofts; and the other two to the Balcony on each side. The Melodies that day were from… Heaven! Of such was the music ministry rendered at the Homegoing Services for Nelle. There was constant talk about her Choral Praise and witness to her invitations to ‘Join The Choir’.
I met Nelle Clardy while tracing the Line History of Alpha Chi Spring ’53; the Delta Chapter of Tennessee State University. In our initial conversation, she invited me to come and Worship at Spruce Street. There, she turned over to me her TZU Yearbooks to fill in some gaps in her Line History. She reminded me of my Grandmother; without my even knowing that she was the former First Lady of Spruce Street!
Born in Clare more, OK, Nelle was educated in the Tulsa Public Schools; Booker T. Washington High School. She chose TZU and at a sorority/fraternity party she met the love of her life, Charles R. Hudson. She became “the consummate Air Force officer’s wife during seven tours of duty. As a member of the Officer’s Wives Clubs she sang in ‘The ChoralBelles’ and other base choirs as they moved and built the Family of Five Children.”
She then invited me to the weekly night Bible Study. There I met her two Sisters-in-Law, Ola Hudson and Rae Watkins. Talk about ‘Salt of the Earth’… just plain… Salt.
There was actually Three Eulogies given apart from the Pastor’s Word of Life. Who but God can do that? The ‘Choral Praise’! “All Day Long” I’ve been with Jesus, all day long, my lips have uttered praise. All day long my heart, my souls been lifted in Worship, all day long I have been with Him. No way could I ever honor you enough for all you have done for me. So I will offer up thanksgiving from my heart, and praise continuously.”
As the Praise rose higher they sang “God is a Good God, God don’t ever change. God is a Good God that’s why I’ll ever praise His Name.” And then the Soloist: “Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my Father. There is no shadow or turning in Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not; as Thou has been, Thou forever wilt be… all I have needed Thy hand hath provided: pardon for sin; peace that endureth; presence to cheer AND to guide; strength; hope; blessings…”. The touch that was new for me was a recording of Nelle singing “To God Be The Glory”… How can I say Thanks? …The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude…. With his Blood He has saved me, with His Power he has Raised me…” as she was recessed from Spruce Street Church.
The every day, every Sun day singers of worship, thanksgiving and praise is not just for their personal lives. But the blessings that emanate from their praise becomes a universal, and for those whose earthly lives have ended it become eternity —in the memories that they leave for those who hear and receive at the depth of the soul. In all my life’s years of experiencing those who have the pure and natural and unadulterated ability to ‘give thanks’, whether in their song, in their praise, or in their ‘Shout’; I find the very Essence of Gratitude. More than just a celebration of gratitude —a practice… that goes beyond the mounds and pounds of food for the body; but food for the Soul! Eternal Life! Every day is a day of Thanksgiving. Take the time to Glorify The Lord! TODAY!
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