Tuesday, December 09, 2014

THE JUKEBOX HERO HYMNAL: Hymn 011: Sunday Morning People by Honey Cone

Like her big sister Darlene Love, Edna Wright grew up singing gospel music before transitioning into R&B with the vocal group The Blossoms. From there, she moved into backup gigs for artists such as Johnny Rivers, Ray Charles and the Righteous Brothers. Finally, in 1969, she joined with Shellie Clark (one of Ike Turner’s Ikettes) and Carolyn Willis (former member of Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans) to form Honey Cone.
Honey Cone had a decent three year run, churning out hits like "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," "Girls, It Ain't Easy" and "Stick Up." But it’s the 1971 single “Want Ads” that the group is most remembered for. The tune, which climbed to number one on both the R&B and pop charts, details a cheated-upon woman’s plan to place a want ad seeking a new young man, single and free, one preferably experienced in love, but trainees will be accepted. It’s pure pop gold and earned Wright her place in music history.
But just because Wright found secular success doesn’t mean she forgot her gospel roots. For evidence, look no further than the lead track off Honey Cone’s debut album, “Sunday Morning People.” Penned by Motown legends Holland-Dozier-Holland (with an assist by award winning songwriter Ron Dunbar), the song addresses a familiar concern with anyone who has spent time in a pew…
“Sunday morning people, better listen to me (you better take heed). You go to church on Sunday, hate your neighbor all week. You can pray as loud as you can, now. Turn your back on your fellow man, now. You swear you're on the level, then you shake hands with the devil. You got to help your brothers seven days a week if peace and happiness is what you seek.”
Of course, the problem of Christians who give lip service to their faith, but never act on it, is hardly a modern problem. Just ask James, the “brother of the Lord,” who noticed the problem already surfacing in the early days of the Church…
“Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called ‘the friend of God.’ See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20-26, NABRE)
Yeah, that’s right. If you’re one of those Sunday morning people who doesn’t live out their faith during the rest of the week, the “brother of the Lord” just called you an ignoramus right smack dab in the pages of The Bible. It might be time to get with the program.

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