From the earliest days, music has been an important part of our worship. Meeting in homes and schoolrooms, the earliest congregants of our founding churches would sing hymns together. With luck, there’d be a piano present, and someone who could bang out the tunes! Children sang in Sunday School and if we can believe the evidence of this historical photo, young people formed bands featuring woodwinds and strings.
As soon as our predecessors were able to plan proper church buildings, they gave thought to the musical portion of their services. Verdun United installed a 3-manual pipe organ manufactured by Franklin Legge Organ Co. of Toronto. Crawford Park started out with a Minschall organ in 1952, which was replaced in 1977. In 2010, the amalgamated congregation, now called SouthWest United , replaced it with the hand-crafted wooden organ you see in the sanctuary today.
With these organs came professional organists and choir directors. And oh yes, there have been choirs! Junior and senior choirs; children’s choirs; men’s and women’s choirs; choirs big and small, dressed in robes or street clothes, all making a joyful noise unto the Lord!
United Church people being a fun-loving bunch, some of the music made over the years has not been strictly church music. Part of the joy of having a building is having a hall to be used for dinners, dances and shows.
in the 1950s, Verdun United had a very active Young Adult group, the members of which put a great deal of energy into the annual Y.A.G. Revue. Thanks to the late Ed Chaffey, who was an enthusiastic participant, we have many photos from these shows that featured skits, songs from popular Broadway shows like Oklahoma and South Pacific, and quite a bit of cross-dressing. They were performed on the stage of the VUC hall.
That stage was also the site of an early performance by Gerry Mercer, a Verdun boy who would go on to join the successful Canadian rock band April Wine in the 1970s.
These pictures and many others will be on display in the church as of November 16th as part of the exhibit: 120 Years of the United Church in Verdun.