The Faithful Five


Those crazy kids are at it again. Hard on the heels of their incredibly successful debut CD, "A Faithful Five Christmas" (a special thanks goes out to both of you who bought it), the Faithful return to the studio this month to record their as-yet unnamed SECOND CD! They'll be singing spirituals and folk songs arranged by composer and jazz musician David Plank, and it is expected to be released sometime in the early fall.

We're making the record here in Tucson at Allusion Studios, and, with chief engineer Jim Pavett sitting in the control room, we're expecting big things from this project. Stay tuned to this page, we'll be scheduling the CD release party and concert soon.


The Faithful Five, spring 1999

The Faithful will be singing live on the radio! Tune in to KXCI radio here in Tucson, at 91.3 on your FM dial, this Monday, December 20th, between 4 and 5 pm, if you want to hear us sing some of the songs from our new CD and get interviewed by Mike Landwehr on his popular afternoon show. The station has a copy of the CD as well, so don't be shy about calling in to request your favorite Christmas song!

New! 12-9-99

The concert was a SMASH HIT!!! Church members, family members, friends, and acquaintances all gathered for an evening of fun and Christmas music. Many thanks to all who came!

CDs are available for sale by mail-order. Send US$14 for shipment to addresses in the USA, US$19 for shipment to Europe, to Lee Fike, 1726 N. Cloverland Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85712.

The Faithful Five in Concert!

The Faithful Five will be having their first annual Christmas concert Wednesday, December 8th, 1999, in the Social Hall of the First United Methodist Church in Tucson, Arizona. They'll be singing a selection of a capella Christmas songs, many of which will be familiar to all, and some of which will be new to most. All the music for this concert has been arranged by local composer and jazz musician David Plank especially for the Faithful Five.

The concert starts at 7 pm. Admission is free; a free-will offering will be collected, with the proceeds going to help restore our beautiful carillon bells in the tower of our church. There will be two approximately half-hour sets of music, with a short intermission in between, during which time we'll enjoy desserts and hot drinks.

The evening of the concert is hopefully also going to be the release party for the debut CD of The Faithful Five, entitled "A Faithful Five Christmas." Recorded by Ryan Green, and with the invaluable help and selfless dedication of Sara Green, the group has been working very hard to get this self-produced recording ready in time for the concert. It's being recorded live right here in our own church, so it will come with all the spontaneity, dynamism, and imperfections inherent to a live recording. The price of each CD will be $12; autographs at no extra charge.

Who are the Faithful Five?

Rejeana Bowersox, alto. Rejeana is from Texas and is a graduate of the University of Houston. She's lived here in Tucson for about 10 years and has been singing alto since before high school. Rejeana is a badge-carrying law-enforcement officer and is nobody you'd want to mess with. Rejeana is shown here praying, an activity often associated with laughter when done as a group by the Faithful Five.

Lee Fike, baritone. Another Texas native, Lee has been in veterinary practice here in Tucson for the last 10 years. His roots at First Church go back to 1962, when his dad was pastor here. His cat Rupert, shown here getting strangled, a fate he richly deserves, contributes nothing to the group.

Lori Green, soprano. Lori was born and raised right here in Tucson, and has been singing all her life. She went to college on a vocal performance scholarship and had sung in a number of choirs before coming to the First United Methodist Church in 1992. She creates beauty in life with her singing, with her two children, and in her work as manager of the Hair Tree beauty salon.

Barry Isbell, baritone. Barry is originally from Tucson and is the Director of Music at our church. He received his Master of Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Arizona. In addition to singing and conducting, Barry is an accomplished pianist and is Director of Choral Music at Sabino High School. His first son, Noah, was born this year.

Danny White, tenor. Danny is the newest member of the Faithful Five and hails from Colorado. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a B.A. in music, emphasis in vocal performance. His day job is being the sexton for our church.

And also......

Ryan Green. Ryan graduated from the prestigious University High School and is now a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and is an incredible guitarist. Ryan donated his time, equipment, and expertise to record the new Faithful Five CD. Ryan has his own CD out, produced with his band "Swivelfish," a good addition to the CD collection of anyone with an interest in rock music.

Sara Green. A special thank you goes out to Sara for providing baby sitting services during the recording. Quite simply, it couldn't have happened without her! Sara is in 7th grade at Utterbach Middle School for the Performing Arts. She dances ballet and modern and, in a school with FIVE orchestras, plays cello in the top orchestra in the school.

The Origins of the Faithful Five

Sara takes care of Noah so Dad Barry can rehearse the faithful It had always seemed to me that a cold beer in the still desert night was a perfect way to continue the camaraderie and spiritual focus that comes from singing sacred music. I believe it was Ben Franklin who said, "Beer is God's way of telling us he loves us." Naturally, I was overjoyed to find a group of kindred souls in the choir when I got to Tucson, and soon it had become our habit to go out after choir practice on Thursdays to quench our thirst at one of the local watering holes along University Boulevard. These were all good people, they all shared my faith, and, at the same time, they knew how to have a good time! Clearly I was with the right crowd. Maestro Barry had revealed an appreciation for African-American spirituals that took me back to my Southern roots, and we used to continue singing "Ain't Got Time to Die" and "One More Voice," even after we got to the pub -- we just couldn't stop.

It had long been a tradition for the choir to take a hiatus during the summer months here in the desert. Most folks try to get out of town for a bit at that time -- it's so hot here that if you don't, you risk becoming non compos mentis. Like they say, it's a dry heat. Like a blowtorch.

Sometimes Barry pushes himself a little too hard...

For some of us, though, skipping choir was a drag. We had become close after a few years of singing together and going out every Thursday night together, and we missed each other's company. So, one hot evening, when there was no choir, I suggested that the core group get together at my house on a Thursday and do a little singing and socializing, and everyone readily agreed. And the Faithful Five was born.

We sang and partied together every Thursday night for that whole summer. We sang spirituals, madrigals, motets, hymns, and it was all sung a capella, "in the style of the chapel," which is to say, with no accompaniment. Singing without instruments meant we had to listen to each other very closely, more so, perhaps, than in many choirs, in order to stay in tune, to harmonize, to blend. Each of us made our own sound, but what we each heard and felt as we sang and listened to ourselves sing was the inseparable mix of our voices, one unified sound of which we were each only a part and, at the same time, the whole. When we sang together it was as though we had joined into a single organism, we lost ourselves in each other and in the music we made. The musical vibration that came both from within and without us as individuals united us in a mutual empathy and bliss that went beyond conscious understanding.

...and gets a little too close to the edge.  That's when he knows he needs to decompress with a Faithful Five rehearsal

And when choir started up again in the fall, we continued our little meetings on another night -- "prayer meetings," we called them, only part jokingly. For indeed, we did pray at our rehearsals. We prayed, and we worshiped God, and we celebrated the love we have for each other, and the love we have for others not present, and the love, the incredible love, that's been given to us by God the Father. And we laughed and joked and drank beer and sang. It might not be the way for everyone, but it worked for us.

This was our secret. We did this just because we loved it. There were some accomplished musicians in our little circle, but talent alone didn't explain how we made the sound we made. It was the love we had for each other and for the people for whom we sang, it was the years of practice, and it was the shared vision of Christ's teachings and God's plan for us that brought us together. It was magical, and mystical, and a gift straight from God, that we were all able to sing together the way we did. Our rehearsals truly were prayer meetings, and our prayer was, and is, a prayer of thanks, that we had the opportunity to do this together. Alleluia!

Song lyrics

Here are the lyrics to the songs on the new Faithful Five CD, "A Faithful Five Christmas."

We値l Dress This House (Alfred Burt/Wihla Hutson)
We値l dress this house with holly bright and sprigs of mistletoe.
We値l trim the Christmas tree tonight and set the lights aglow.
We値l wrap our gifts with ribbons gay
and give them out on Christmas day;
by every thing we do and say our gladness we will show.

We値l dress the table daintily, our finest treasures use,
that all a-sparkle it may be and bright with lovely hues.
Then for the feasting we値l prepare
a kitchen full of wondrous fare,
that each from all the dishes rare,
his favorite one may choose.

And ye who would the Christ Child greet your heart also adorn,
that it may be a dwelling meet for him who now is born.
Let all unlovely things give place
to souls bedecked with heavenly grace,
that ye may view His Holy Face
with joy on Christmas morn!

Rehearsing at Barry's

Some Children See Him (Alfred Burt/Wihla Hutson)

Some children see Him lily white, the Baby Jesus born this night,
Some children see Him lily white, with tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown, the Lord of Heaven to earth come down,
Some children see him bronzed and brown, with dark and heavy hair.
Some children see him almond-eyed, this Savior whom we kneel beside,
Some children see him almond-eyed, with skin of yellow hue.
Some children see him dark as they, sweet Mary痴 Son to whom we pray,
Some children see him dark as they, and ah! they love Him, too.
The children in each different place will see the baby Jesus face
Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace, and filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing, and with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the Infant King, 奏is love that痴 born tonight!

Silent Night (Joseph Mohr/Franz Gruber)

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heav地ly hosts sing Alleluia.
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!

Coventry Carol (Traditional)

Looly loo lay, Thou little tiny child,
By, by, looly, loo lay.
Loolay, Thou little tiny child,
By by looly, loo lay.
Oh sisters too, how may we do,
for to preserve this day,
This poor young-ling for whom we do sing,
By by looly, loo lay?

Jesu Parvule (Poor Little Jesus) (A. Burt/B.G. Burt)

Jesu parvule, on Thy couch of hay,
Greet we Thee today, Sweet Son of Mary.
Be Thy slumber deep, while fair angels keep
Vigil o弾r Thy sleep, Blest Babe of Mary.
禅is Thy joy to see kings on bended knee,
Off池ing gifts to Thee, Sweet Son of Mary.
But Thou may痴t not know what these gifts foreshow
Of Thy future woe, Blest Babe of Mary.
Let this gold the while, with its glint beguile
Thy dear lips to smile, Sweet Son of Mary.
May no shadow gray cloud one happy day
Of thine infant play, Blest Babe of Mary.

The First Nol (Traditional)

The first Nol, the angels did say,
was to certain poor shepherds, in fields where they lay.
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
on a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Nol, Nol! Born is the King of Israel!

Ah, Bleak and Chill the Wintry Wind (A. Burt/B.G. Burt)

Ah, bleak and chill the wintry wind, but colder far be he,
Who hath no warmth of love to share with Christ the babe that Mary bare,
On His Nativity.
Dark, dark, the night when Christ was born, but deeper shadows be,
Within the heart that hath no joy with Mary and her heavenly Boy,
On His Nativity.
Peace be to them and right good cheer who carol merrily,
And hie them forth when church bells ring, to kneel before their newborn King,
On His Nativity!

Nigh Bethlehem (Alfred Burt/Bates G. Burt)

Nigh Bethle知 on a wintry night, Noel, Noel, Noel!
Poor shepherds saw a lovely sight,
when angel hosts in vesture bright
burst forth from heaven痴 lofty height,
and sang Noel, Noel!
Peace and good will the Christ Child brings, Noel, Noel, Noel!
And saves all men from evil things,
for He of whom the angel sings
is Lord of Lords and King of Kings!
Then sing Noel, Noel!
So Christian folk, put fear aside, Noel, Noel, Noel!
And spread the gospel far and wide,
That joy be great at Christmas-tide,
And God in Christ be magnified,
Then sing Noel, Noel!

The Star Carol (Alfred Burt/Wihla Hutson)

Long years ago on a deep winter night,
High in the heavens a star shone bright,
While in a manger a wee Baby lay,
Sweetly asleep on a bed of hay.
Jesus, the Lord was that Baby so small,
Laid down to sleep in a humble stall;
Then came the star and it stood overhead,
Shedding its light 喪ound His little bed.
Dear Baby Jesus how tiny Thou art,
I値l make a place for Thee in my heart.
And when the stars in the heavens I see,
Ever and always I think of Thee.

A Blade of Grass (Carroll A. Rinehart/David L. Plank)

However could the grass know, when on a summer痴 hill,
That it a royal blanket be, that it a manger fill?
However could the grass suspect the part that it should play,
When in that manger long ago it was a bed of hay?
However could the grass dream that it should hold a King,
And see the mother of the child, and hear the angels sing?
However shall we humans know when on our summer痴 hill,
What part shall be required of us, what part we shall fulfill?
We are but like a blade of grass that grows so free and wild.
Yet like that grass so long ago we hold the Holy Child.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Traditional)

God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan痴 pow池 when we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Now to the Lord sing praises, all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace.
This holy tide of Christmas all others doth deface,
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

recording in 'the studio.'

O Little Town of Bethlehem (Phillips Brooks/Richard Purvis)

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see Thee lie,
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light,
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is giv地,
So God imparts to human hearts the blessing of His heav地.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray!
Cast out our sins and enter in, be born in us today!
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell:
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!

Bright, Bright the Holly Berries (Alfred Burt/Wihla Hutson)

This is Christmas, this is Christmas, this is Christmas time!
Oh, bright, bright the holly berries in the wreath upon the door,
Bright, bright, the happy faces, with the thoughts of joys in store.
White, white, the snowy meadow wrapped in slumber deep and sweet.
White, white the mistletoe 創eath which two lovers meet.
This is Christmas, this is Christmas, this is Christmas time!

Gay, gay the children痴 voices filled with laughter, filled with glee.
Gay, gay the tinsled things upon the dark and spicy tree.
Day, day, when all mankind may hear the angel痴 song again.
Day, day when Christ was born to bless the song of men.
This is Christmas, this is Christmas, this is Christmas time!

Sing, sing, ye heav地ly host to tell the blessed Savior痴 birth.
Sing, sing, in holy joy ye dwellers all upon the earth.
King, King, yet tiny babe come down to us from God above,
King, King, of every heart which opens wide to love.
This is Christmas, this is Christmas, this is Christmas time!

All songs arranged by David Plank for the Faithful Five.

Mr. Plank痴 music is a gift from God, and we are deeply indebted to him for sharing it with us.


Some of us got together to carve pumpkins at Halloween, after another tough Faithful Five rehearsal spent getting ready to record the CD.

Here Lori and Sara try to demonstrate what the pumpkins look like. Well, Sara does, anyway.....

....Lori's laughing a little too hard to make a very convincing scary person.


Laughing so hard that you cry has become something of a Faithful Five tradition -- for everyone except Barry, whose favored mode of self expression is to laugh so hard he puts jalapeo salsa through his nose, an event so painful that even I don't have the heart to photograph him doing it.


Lori demonstrates the horns she put on her pumpkin.


So what the heck are all these Halloween pictures doing on a page full of Christmas lyrics, you ask? It's just that throughout the autumn, even during other holidays, we've been practicing Christmas songs to get ready for our concert and the recording sessions. The fact that Christmas is coming, the fact that the spirit of Christ is coming into our hearts in new and unexpected ways, has been very present for us for months and months.

Music, and being with those you love, has been the perfect way to prepare for this most special of seasons, and we've been doing it all year...


...Plus, I just think they're funny.



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