ON THE RIVER AT 801 SOPHIA STREET IN DOWNTOWN FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA
Web content copyright © 2015 by Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site), 801 Sophia Street, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401
Singing with joy and faith
Standing at back in photo (from left)
Standing farther forward in photo (from left)
Russell "Nick" Bundy
Click to listen:
Boyd's Memorial Volunteer Chorus
Planted by the "rivers of water"
Kirk Franklin once asked, "Why do we sing?"
Well, the members of the Boyd's Memorial Volunteer Chorus knew beyond a shadow of a doubt why they were singing. They sang because the Lord is excellent. They sang because they were glad, rejoicing in the Most High. They sang because they had been planted by the "rivers of water." And they sang because they wanted to give testimony to the joy and faith that is within them.
For almost 55 years, at least once a month, and sometimes more often, the chorus lifted its voice in song at an 11 a.m. worship service at Shiloh Old Site (most recently on the fourth Sunday of every month). It has also sang countless times at other churches. The group often rehearsed on Wednesday evenings, but recent rehearsals were sometimes been on different nights..
A brief history of the chorus
The Boyd's Memorial Volunteer Chorus grew out of an early request by the Rev. Lawrence A. Davies during the first year of his pastorate at Shiloh Old Site. In 1962, wanting to add a new dimension to the congregation's music ministry, Rev. Davies invited "volunteers" from the church to organize a gospel chorus.
Initially, the group was small in number, though it later grew to as many as forty members. At Rev. Davies' request, Mrs. Evelyn Boyd became the group's director-pianist, and the chorus quickly became an inspirational part of selected worship services. In addition, it often accompanied Rev. Davies to events at other churches, where Rev. Davies would be invited to speak.
For almost 55 years, it was singing strong
The chorus celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2012. After Rev. Davies' retirement as pastor, the chorus focused mostly on singing traditional gospel music for Shiloh Old Site's 11 o'clock service on the fourth Sunday of each month.
Mrs. Evelyn Boyd, the group's first director-pianist, died suddenly in 1977, after which the group was renamed in her honor. After Mrs. Boyd's death, the group was accompanied and directed briefly by Mrs. Odessa Dixon and Mrs. Lucy Lewis before acquiring its long-time director-pianist, Mrs. Marcelena Eure.
The chorus was never just about perfect pitch, proper intonation, or even celestial harmony. Rather,it was about doing God's work and uplifting the name of Jesus through song. As of 2017, the chorus was proud to still have four of its original members. The "Pioneer 4" included two emeritus members, Mrs. Eliza Williams and Mrs. Louise Lewis, as well as two active members, Mrs. Shirley Hill and Mrs. Janice Davies.
Mrs. Marcelena Eure, long-time pianist and director, passed away on October 20, 2017.
To listen to some recordings of Mrs. Eure singing some of her favorite hymns and gospel songs, click here.
To view selected photos taken of the chorus over the years, click here.