Inside the Chapel

 

 

I don’t suppose there’s any more we can say about Elvis Presley that’s not already been said. He was, and remains the ‘King’ as far as rock and roll is concerned. He was famous in life and even more so in death and it’s forty years ago today on 16th August 1977 that Elvis died at the at 42. Amazingly, he still has a world following that never seems to decline.

Greenfield Baptist Church Llanelli

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Tickets are on sale at the moment for a world tour where his images are accompanied by world class orchestras and sales are at an all-time high. What’s even more remarkable is that all these years later his fan base is increasingly made up of those who were not even born at the time of his death. Sightings of him have become a running joke since his death and his resting place in Graceland will today become even more a place of pilgrimage for Elvis fans than ever before.

The young Elvis often attended the Baptist church in Memphis where he was first introduced to Gospel music and preaching. He would sneak out of the church his parents and he attended just to be part of this black congregation where the singing and praise reached the highs and lows of all that is Gospel. The Minister Herbert Brewster wrote the song ‘Move on a little higher’ which Elvis later recorded and the vibrancy and the changing mood of Gospel many historians say greatly influenced the beginnings of rock and roll.

I’m pretty sure though that this did not include the pouting lips and gyrating hips! but his songs do have that gospel ‘feel’ and that began in a small church in Memphis where Elvis became captivated by the dynamism of Gospel preaching and music. During his career, he recorded more than 50 Gospel songs and his three Grammy awards were not for his most popular songs but for his Gospel recordings.

Then again Gospel and all kinds of music do have that effect. A song on the radio can take us back to our childhood and youth within moments. Many a married couple have ‘their song’. ‘Cwm Rhondda’ and ‘Calon Lẫn’ sung before an international at the Principality stadium have many hardened rugby fans in tears of pride and expectation.

Elvis so we are told often relaxed by singing and playing these songs, he knew by heart and his faith was grounded in the truths they expressed. A great Bible teacher was once asked what was his basis of faith. He stood before the class and simply sang to his students a song he learned in Sunday school. ‘Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so’.

That, he said says it all - I’m sure Elvis would have agreed!

 


Rev.David Jones

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