Published April 22, 2004
The sounds of a choir, distilled from over 70 years of musical history at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, will be heard in the abbey church of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit on Sunday, April 25.
The Martin Luther King, Sr. Choir from Ebenezer, the church which is considered the birthplace of the civil rights movement, will perform at 4 p.m. as part of a special concert series for the monastery’s 60th anniversary year.
Currently under the direction of Dr. Kay Pace, the choir was organized in 1932 when the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. was pastor and his wife, Alberta King (Mama King), served as choir director. In its early history, the choir performed at the premiere of “Gone With the Wind” in 1939 and held annual summer musicals in the 1940s that were highly popular.
Mrs. King “set the standard for church music throughout Atlanta because she knew how to balance repertoire,” Pace said. “She selected only the best classical, spiritual and gospel music for her choir.” In 1974 the choir was named in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr.
After a semi-retirement, Mrs. King, the mother of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., formed the Hymn Choir at the church and played as organist. To the sorrow of all, she was killed while playing the organ during the Sunday morning service at Ebenezer on June 30, 1974.
After her death, the Hymn Choir was combined with the Martin Luther King, Sr. Choir. Currently, the choir is under the leadership of Pace and Jane Benjamin Bonner, choir president, and has defined its purpose as to win souls to Christ, to offer comfort, and to give information about Christ through song.
The selections chosen for the concert at the monastery include “The Lord’s Prayer,” the traditional spiritual “Praise the Worthy Lamb,” the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “If I Can Help Somebody,” “His Grace Is Sufficient,” “If Jesus Goes With Me” and “I Have a Dream.”
The monastery was founded on March 21, 1944 by Cistercian (Trappist) monks sent from the monastery of Gethsemani, Ky. A concert is being held one Sunday afternoon a month in this anniversary year with visiting musicians. A reception will follow and the monastery gift store will be open after the concert. Admission to the concert is free with proceeds from a free-will offering going to the care of elder monks.
The monastery is located at 2625 Highway 212, SW, Conyers. For directions or information call (770) 483-8705 or visit www.trappist.net.