Song Leader Fired After Including 'O Canada!' In Song List Sunday Before July 4th
Howard Sprague has been song leader at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church for 14 years. He isn't the best singer, but he is faithful, and tells funny jokes between songs. But none of that could save him from the axe yesterday after an unpardonable offense. It was the Sunday before July 4th. So it is common to have Christian based patriotic hymns as part of the worship set. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up that caused hymn number 806 to be listed in the bulletin when it should have been number 807. 807 is "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" and 806 is "O Canada!".
It wasn't caught until the pianist began with the intro. As people began arriving on the page, folks started looking around. Some were giggling. But others were not. Sprague immediately looked embarrassed and nervously said, "No offense to any Canadians we may have in the service today... but we will not be singing 'O Canada!' Instead, go across the page and let's sing a great American anthem that honors the Lord and reflects the beauty of our country." He quickly glanced over at the pastor who has a grin on his face. Howard thought they had dodged a bullet.
Then after the service the deacon board grabbed the pastor and cornered Sprague in the foyer. "What was that?" asked Robert Phipps, head deacon. The song leader replied that it was a mistake. "Really?" continued Phipps. "You had one job. One job. It was America Sunday, and you stuck Canada in the mix. You say it was a mistake. Sure, that's convenient, since it was right across the page. But we're onto you, buddy. We've been checking out your Facebook. You haven't hashtagged 'MAGA' once in the last 2 years, but you did watch most of the recent hockey playoffs. You say you were born in Atlanta. Do you have a real birth certificate to back that up?"
Sprague felt the tension and said, "How about we just cool off today and discuss this over coffee tomorrow?" But Phipps would have none of it. Plus, coffee makes him more crazy anyway. So after a brief meeting, they told Sprague, "I think you need to get your hymnal and go before there are fireworks."