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The Gospelaires

04/01/2020

Singing the Gospel in the 1970s.

Back in the 1970’s, when I was much, much younger, I was part of a ‘gospel group’ (in those days, ‘praise bands’ hadn’t been invented – at least not here in NI, where churches were still very much of the ‘organ/piano/choir’ variety).  We were in every respect, a ‘Gospel’ group – singing songs of a distinctly evangelistic flavour, at coffee bars, youth fellowships, social evenings, and yes, even in regular church services.  (These were the days when I hadn’t learned about the Regulative Principle of Worship).  It was at those meetings that we learned to tell others how our lives had been transformed by salvation in Christ, and even to give little evangelistic talks, from which I, personally, learned how to construct and deliver a sermon.

The recent sudden death of one of my fellow group members, Paul McKee, (whom I have known for 50 years) brought a lot of these memories back, and Pauline, our vocalist from most of those days showed me a newspaper cutting from the Newtownards Chronicle of 1977.

I thought I’d photograph it on my phone and share it, for I’d be greatly surprised if a secular newspaper would carry a report like this in these modern times!  And for some it may even bring back memories of more innocent times.

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And for those who wonder what we looked like, as a ‘Gospel Group’ back in the 70s, I can assure you that we didn’t look anything like a modern ‘Praise Band’ – not a pair of skinny jeans, a tee-shirt, or even a tattoo in sight!

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The format of our meetings was different too – no-one stood up to sing with us, we sang a number of songs, – no repetition – interspersed with personal testimonies, and while we enjoyed a bit of humour, we always aimed to conclude with a challenging Christ-centred gospel message, and a thoughtful, evangelistic closing song.

The ‘Gospelaires’ began to sing and play together in 1971, – four teenagers standing at the front of a church in Bangor and singing ‘Jesus Knows the Road I travel…’   And we traveled the length and breadth of Northern Ireland, every weekend, often away Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at various venues.  For around 10 years, we rehearsed together every Wednesday evening, until marriage and family responsibilities made that huge commitment difficult, and we all moved on to other vocations, different churches and other ministries.

Those were good years.

2 Comments
  1. Eric McComb permalink

    So sorry to hear of the passing of Paul. The newspaper article is an excellent reflection of the Gospelaires and their ministry at that time. Had the privilege of listening to them on many an occasion.

  2. Raymond Stewart permalink

    I very much remember those days too and it was common in many churches to have a soloist in the evening ‘gospel meeting’ and on many occasions the oreaching was undermined thereby sadly.

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