LYNN NEARY, host:
When Frank Newsome leads his congregation in singing the song "Sweet Beulah Land," he's often overcome with emotion. Newsome is the moderator of the Little David Church in Haysi, Virginia. In this week's What's in a Song, our occasional series from the Western Folk Life Center, Newsome explains that for him singing and redemption go hand-in-hand.
Mr. FRANK NEWSOME (Moderator, Little David Church): The life that I was leading, I didn't like it too good out in the world - turned my life around with the talking to the good man above and asking him to help me. I believe I repented up my sins and got right with the good Lord, and the talent he give me now I'm using it for him.
(Singing) I'm kind of homesick for a country, to which I've never been before...
I'm one out of 22 children. My mommy give birth to 20 children and had two miscarriages. The same father and the same mother - no twins. A big family. We didn't have nothing much like other people did, but one thing we had was love. And we looked out for one another.
(Singing) I'm looking now across the river, where my faith will end in sight...
I love the sound of that music. I walked with my mother from where we lived in a (unintelligible) four miles to the church house on Saturday morning and back. After meeting's over with and the same thing on Sunday morning. And I just growed up with it and I loved that old sound from a little boy on up.
(Singing) My loved one are looking for me...
Every time we meet, we'd start about 9:30. We've got 91 members and besides the 91 members on Sunday, we have about 250 that comes to that church and it fills up. And several times several of them has come forth and tell experience of grace that they've had with the good Lord above. Then we go to the river, to the creek, and baptize them.
(Singing) I wonder when I'll take my journey, I now say the end and sigh...
It's just so sweet to me when I can feel the spirit of the Lord. It makes everything so easy. I guess I go through the motion a lot of preaching and singing. But when the spirit of the Lord's there then it's real easy. It's a different tone of my voice when the Lord's blessing me to sing and to preach.
(Singing) Beulah Land, I'm longing for you, and someday on thee I'll stand. There my home where I'll be eternal, Beulah Land, sweet Beulah land.
NEARY: What's in a Song is produced by Hal Cannon and Taki Telonidis of the Western Folk Life Center.
(Soundbite of music)
NEARY: This is NPR's WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Lynn Neary.