Cathedrals "Cathedrals Family Reunion" Album Review


Prime Cuts: Wedding Music, Bloodwashed Band, Search Me, O God

Anyone with a stash of cash can leave an inheritance.  And such an inheritance squandered in the hands of the infidels will be interred with the deceased's bones in time.  But not everyone can leave a legacy.  A legacy demands time, energy and faith invested in the lives of others.  And it is only through prayer and God's grace that such a legacy thrives and bears fruits for the generations to come.  The Cathedrals is one of those Southern Gospel groups that have invested not only in nurturing their own success but that of others.  Though if one were to measure their success based on their awards received, they are peerless.  Over their entire career span of thirty six years, they have garnered a staggering 83 Singing News fan awards, inducted into the Gospel Hall of fame and they have received 14 Dove Awards. However, their true legacy is not just wrapped in plaques and miniature monuments they have had received.  Rather,  the Cathedrals have birthed a whole ménage of quartets and groups to take on the Gospel of Jesus Christ to generations to come. Extant groups such as Greater Vision, Heartland Quartet, Legacy 5, Mark Trammell Quartet, Mercy's Way, Perfect Heart and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound all have had members associated with the Cathedrals.

Started off as a trio of Bobby Clark, Glen Payne and Danny Koder, the Cathedrals had their beginnings as an outgrowth of the preaching ministry of Earl and Lily Weatherford at Rex Humbard's Cathedral of Tomorrow.  When Earl and Lily Weatherford decided to move to California that year, Payne, Clark, and Koker decided to stay with the Cathedral of Tomorrow, and the Cathedral Trio was born. In 1964, they added bass George Younce and became a quartet. For the first several years of their existence, they performed and travelled with evangelist Rex Humbard, the pastor of the Cathedral for Tomorrow. For years with the frequent turnover of group members and the incessant struggle for radio airplay, the Cathedrals struggled to survive. Things only started to pick up in the late 1970s when Bill Gaither started introducing the Cathedrals to a contemporary audience through his PraiseGathering events. Later the Cathedrals went on to have countless hits and albums being released over the years.  However, ill health has deterred the group that by 1999 after a much celebrated farewell tour and an ensuing video they call it quits.

Though the Cathedrals may have officially retired, this doesn't mean that it's the end of their music making days.  Families may separate but blest is always the tie that binds.  To coincide with their 2-day "Cathedral Family Reunion" concert, alumni members - Ernie Haase, Danny Funderburk, Gerald Wolfe, Marrk Trammell and Scott Fowler-have come together to re-recorded some of the Cathedrals biggest hits with one new song added in as a bonus.  So, let's get to the new song first: "We'll Work," written by Ernie Haase, Wayne Haun and Joel Lindsey calls to mind the Cathedrals' "Boundless Joy."  A befitting anthem about never retiring from the Lord's work until He returns "We'll Work" features their patented harmonies with some delightful banjo licks to boot.  The rest of the songs have very much kept to the original arrangements.  But thanks to modern technologies, the voices of some of the group's deceased members were brought in to sing with the current lineup.  One of the album's most touching moments is to hear George Younce and Glen Payne's voices one last time on the beautifully orchestrated hymn "Search Me, O God."

With an album like this, the track list is bound to leave out favorites of fans.  With the exception of "Oh What a Savior," "Yesterday" and "Search Me, O God," the bulk of these 12 songs are songs lifted from the Cathedrals' heydays in the 80s and the 90s.  Yet, a listen again to some of these songs soberly reminds us why the Cathedrals have been such favorites over the last fifty years or so.  While many artists sing about transient themes, the Cathedrals never strayed from singing about the pillars of the Gospel ("He Made a Change"), the joy of heaven ("We Shall Be Caught Up") and the eternal love of Jesus Christ ("Wedding Music").  And nothing sums up more the group's mandate than the words from their signature tune "Bloodwashed Band:" "We're a band of Christian soldiers fighting Satan everyday/We're standing up for Jesus while we're kneeling down to pray/If His precious blood has cleansed you and washed away your sin/That makes you a member of the blood washed band." 

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