Standing Ovations

When I’m watching a video of a concert, sometimes in the sterile environment of viewing it on a 15-inch screen I don’t get quite as caught up as the audience.Β But no matter what I thought of a performance, if the audience is so moved as to offer a standing ovation, a chill still runs down my spine and a tear sometimes comes to my eye.Β Just seeing that the artist connected with the audience moves me deeply, even if the artist didn’t connect with me.

Is it just me?

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21 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I think we in America (and especially the southern gospel music crowds) are far too eager to offer a standing ovation, to the point that it lessens its value. Obviously, there are some that are deserved, but at times it makes me wonder if people are just tired of standing. This past week I was at a concert and there were 3 or 4 standing ovations during the two hours. Were most of them deserved? In my opinion, yes, because the performance was excellent. However, I’ve been to concerts where people give a standing ovation and I’m thinking, “Why on earth are we standing for this?”

    In answer to your question, though. Yes–an audience’s reaction does contribute to my reaction to a song, testimony, etc.

    On a similar, but separate thought… I DO think that audience reaction/participation helps “feed” the energy in a concert setting and can contribute to the perception one has of an event. Master programmers like Bill Gaither, George Younce, etc. detect “where” an audience is emotionally and can adjust the flow of a program to achieve what they’re wanting to accomplish in the concert. I sometimes prefer the live Homecoming tapings versus the studio tapings. Why? Maybe it has something to do with the audience and the artists’ interaction with them.

    • Sorry… I meant “Sometimes I wonder if people are just tired of sitting.”

    • I especially agree with the first part of your response. Pardon me for talking about “the good old days” but in the past standing ovations were infrequent but well deserved; it had to be an extraordinary performance to get a standing ovation. Now a mediocre performance can get a “standing O”, especially if the group’s entourage is there standing on every other song.

  2. I too get caught up on a taping when the audience gives an ovation. I think mainly because I feel that when the audience is emotionally connected to the singer/song, it lends to a better and more passionate performance. I also enjoy the look of humility/appreciation on the look of the artist’s face. It tells me they really believe that they are honored to sing about our Lord.

  3. Yeah I prefer the Live Homecoming tapings to the Studio ones, though it did all begin in the studio, but even in the GGS Videos some of the ‘standing ovations’ are stage managed and even pre-recorded. A floor view of the stage when the audience rises is fairly accurate, but a cut to floor view may be posed. I do get the odd emotional response when viewing – depending on MY mood at the time, but it is all a little tempered by the knowledge that the audience may have been told to get up!
    Either way we should not, even in sober southern gospel, confuse the emotional with the spiritual.

  4. Ovations are one thing, but just standing . . . I genuinely dislike songs that force the audience to stand. Any song with the words “stand up” will trigger it. And any song that is even slightly patriotic. As far as I’m concerned, standing should be reserved only for the National Anthem. I’m just as patriotic as the next guy, but if you don’t stand up when a song is sung about the blood of Jesus, then why stand for a far lesser lyric! JMHO.

    • …and that’s why I hit points where I won’t stand for the National Anthem if the rest of my audience won’t stand for a song about a far greater emblem, the Cross!

      • Well…but doesn’t it kind of depend on whether the song was any good? To me, there’s a perfectly natural reason to stand for the National Anthem—it’s a time-honored gesture of respect for the flag and pride in being an American. I may well stand for a song about the cross as well, but if I thought the performance was lame or the song was cheesy, I’m staying in my seat. I don’t know about anybody else, but to me that just makes sense.

      • I’m talking about songs delivered equally well.

      • Well in that case, I say stand for both!

      • I sort of agree. I’m in favor of a standing ovation if that night’s particular rendition earns it. Now Steve is consistent enough that I imagine it typically is, but suppose he’s under the weather and taking it easy some night, takes it down a few keys, and doesn’t do a high ending – don’t do a standing ovation for nostalgia alone, just if the rendition calls for it. πŸ™‚

      • I absolutely agree. In the case of “A Mighty Fortress,” it was fascinating to watch what he did. He started half a key below the original. Then, instead of changing key by whole-steps, he went up by half-steps, all the way through the line, “His kingdom is forever,” then the repeat of that line. But then he ended the phrase normally and didn’t do the high ending. We all wondered what was going on…until he changed key *again*, this time a whole step, and nailed the high ending after all! Later, I compared the highest note he hit that night with the highest note on the original, and I realized that the two notes were only a step apart. 😎

        So yeah, I’d say that particular standing-O was well deserved. πŸ˜€

  5. Rev Paul, I agree! I was at a Gold City concert one night and they sang a song about the cross that just blew me away. No one stood. Then they did a patriotic song and everyone was on their feet before the first chorus. I felt like staying in my seat, but I would have been portrayed as unpatriotic–and I’m not un-patriotic at all. I just felt like a heel for standing up for the flag when I didn’t stand up for the cross.

    It has been my observation that very few standing ovations are actually warranted. People routinely stand up when they realize it’s the last song of the set or on the group’s latest single. I saw a very genuine standing ovation a couple of years ago after Mark Trammell totally nailed “How Great Thou Art,” and that same night the audience kept clapping and clapping until they re-sung “Safe On The Glory Side.” There were several other artists on that show who received standing ovations, but I felt those two times were the most spontaneous.

    So, to comment on Daniel’s post, if I truly think the ovation is overwhelmingly sincere and spontaneous, I, too, am moved. But honestly, more than two or three standing o’s in an evening starts to cheapen the compliment, in my opinion.

    • Regarding your remark about standing-Os not being warranted, I had a chance to observe something interesting in relation to that topic at a recent Steve Green concert. Much to our surprise, he uncorked his famous acapella rendition of “A Mighty Fortress,” and it was fantastic. A little bit pitchy on the last couple of high notes, but still just a really fine performance.

      Now, he’s been doing this particular rendition for over 20 years, and I saw a 1987 clip where the entire audience was standing after he did it.

      Fast-forwarding to the concert the other week, everybody stood then too. Now it’s an interesting question what role sheer nostalgia was playing in that case—people have been giving this a standing-O for years, so why not do so now? For my part, I was standing for the sheer excellence of the performance, but I suspect the rest of the audience was doing it largely out of nostalgia, and here’s my reason: *None* of the other songs he did that night got a standing-O. I literally jumped out of my seat and stood at the end of “God and God Alone,” and nobody else stood with me. Hmmm…makes you think.

      • Well, people stood 20 years ago for “For God and God Alone” . . . πŸ™‚

      • Hmmm…well they may have, but I’ve seen clips where they don’t. My impression with “A Mighty Fortress” was that it got a standing-O *every time*.

        Come to think of it, I’m almost more surprised that “Find Us Faithful” didn’t get one. That’s just such a “standing-O” song, if you know what I mean. I guess a lot depends on the makeup of an audience. The people at this particular concert were largely older folks, so I guess they’d be generally less inclined to stand than a younger, more enthusiastic audience.

      • Yes, the age of the audience can be a huge factor in enthusiasm level.

  6. Daniel, I’m reminded of a story that our beloved George Younce told one time. He said, “We sang not long ago at a Midget’s Convention and got a standing ovation . . . and didn’t know it.

    • I remember hearing that on a record! πŸ™‚

  7. Standing ovations at the end of a concert are a response to the overall program, not necessarily the final song.

  8. I’ll clap to the beat of the song, and I will clap at the end of the concert. Hardly ever will I clap after a song. Like the Reverend said, I hate to be forced to stand and clap. This to me is a form of pride and comparison(indicator) of how were doing? If I like what your doing I’ll buy a cd(s). Like J.D once said, Jesus don’t need a hand clap of praise, why he said, it just magnifies the singers, and not the LORD.