The Mennonite Hour radio program first aired more than 60 years ago—just five years after the end of World War II. Most Mennonite preachers still wore straight cut coats and women all wore white starched coverings.
Out of that era, a men’s quartet called The Crusaders secured 15 minutes of free time on a radio station, and various combinations of voices continued that tradition until 1979 when The Mennonite Hour finally went off the air. The last quartet numbers were recorded in 1967.
A new CD from Third Way Media (formerly Mennonite Media) captures 17 years of that musical history for men’s quartet lovers, music or church historians and anyone who enjoys good music. The archival album titled “Breathe on Me, Breath of God: A Musical Journey,” features quartet selections which have not previously been released.
“Many of the favorites of that era are seldom sung anymore,” says John Horst, compiler. “You’ll hear differences in recording techniques and singing style,” he adds." A few of the very early numbers sound a little crackly like something from, not surprisingly, the 50s. And others, like 'Day of Judgment,' probably wouldn’t be sung in many Mennonite churches anymore with references to 'when the world’s on fire.' "
Other musical selections on the CD include “Tis Marvelous and Wonderful,” “Rise Up, O Men of God,” “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” and “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned.” A German favorite is “So Nimm Denn Meine Hande”.
Horst, a quartet bass for The Mennonite Hour from 1956-1963, still hosts a weekly “Mostly Mennonite, Mostly A Cappella” radio program on a local station, WEMC, on Sundays from 8-9:30 a.m. (91.7 FM or streamed online at wemcradio.org) on which he uses music from the former Mennonite Hour programs. He also wrote a new Mennonite Hour history for the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia online at www.gameo.org (click on Encyclopedia and then on “M” to scroll to Mennonite Hour.)
More information is available at store.ThirdWayMedia.org or 800-999-3534. Third Way Media is a ministry of Mennonite Mission Network.