SOUTH OGDEN, Utah — Music touches the human soul. It can soothe a crying child, stir patriotism and delight concertgoers. For the dedicated members of the Men of Song chorus, music is an integral part of their lives. This group of 25 LDS men, all from Utah, range in age from 42 to 86 years old. They faithfully rehearse for two hours every Thursday evening at the South Ogden Senior Center.
The chorus has an intriguing history that began in the 1930s. Originally sponsored by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the group was known as the Southern Pacific Male Chorus. Members disbanded during World War II and reunited in 1947 under the direction of Owen Rouse. By 1983, they represented an Ogden bank and were called the Valley Men of Song. Members cycle in and out, but some current members have sung with the group for years.
“I love the camaraderie with the men and their wives,” says Gordon Rock, a member since the 1960s. Rock has always been involved in music and enjoyed a long career with KSL. He loves traveling when the group has performed throughout the western states, Canada, Washington, D.C., Hawaii and other locations.
The Men of Song, as the group is now called, boasts two former Mormon Tabernacle Choir members, including director Richard M. Jenson, a retired Weber State University professor. Robert Hunt is president of Men of Song, and the accompanist is Marvetta Saunders. The former careers of the men vary and include three former mayors, a fire chief, hospital auditor, property manager, grave-digger and a farmer. A railroad worker, IRS agent, school principal and teachers, contractors, computer programmers and a Boston Red Sox baseball player round out the group.
Choir members have logged years of faithful LDS Church service. They have served full-time missions; some have served as bishops, stake presidents, high council members, temple presidents, temple workers, stake patriarchs, Scoutmasters and priesthood quorum presidents. Many of the men served in the military with veterans from World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. The group has a repertoire of LDS hymns and other sacred songs, as well as secular, patriotic, Broadway, Christmas, medleys and a variety of fun songs.
“I joined the Men of Song this past October. The fellowship and testimony growth is great,” says George Donahue, one of the more recent members. His wife, Colleen, attends the rehearsals with him, sitting in the back of the room, crocheting and tapping her foot to the music.
When asked what the requirements were to join the group, all the obvious answers were offered: commitment, ability to carry a tune, hold a pitch. But one member humorously piped up with, “You have to be able to breathe.”
For more about the Men of Song go to menofsong.blogspot.com.
Stephanie Abney is a retired teacher and freelance writer. She and her husband, Jim, live in Mesa, Ariz. They have five children and 17 grandchildren. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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