Cathedral Trio: Introducing the Cathedral Trio (1963)

Introducing the Cathedral Trio (The Cathedrals) - 1963This post starts a series of Cathedral Quartet album reviews with an ultimate goal of an in-depth review of every recording (excluding compilations) recorded by the Cathedrals, from their start as a trio in 1963 through their retirement in 1999.

Since the Cathedrals came out of the Weatherfords, their immediate prehistory can be traced back to Glen Payne joining the Weatherfords in about 1956. He came to them from the Stamps-Ozark Quartet; it was a huge step up for Payne, as the platform provided by Rex Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow (in Akron, Ohio) made them one of the most popular groups of their era. Besides, a steady paycheck and the ability to sing in one location much of the time made a position with the Weatherfords about as attractive as a position with the Kingdom Heirs is today.

Though Lily Fern Weatherford has sung with the Weatherfords for most of the years they have been on the road, she came off the road in the 1960s for several years to raise two children Earl and Lily had adopted. So the Weatherfords had a male tenor for several years. In 1962, tenor James Hopkins left the group, and Earl invited Bobby Clark to move to Akron and fill the vacant position. He accepted, partly due to his respect for and desire to work with Henry Slaughter, the group’s pianist at the time.

However, six weeks after Clark joined, Slaughter left the Weatherfords to accept the position of choir director at the Cathedral of Tomorrow. Even though Slaughter was still working for the same ministry, the time constraints of the choir director position would not permit him to remain a performing and touring member of the Weatherfords. Earl Weatherford called Danny Koker, who had previously played for the Weatherfords, and invited him to return. Koker, who was a music director for a church Rex Humbard’s brother Clem Humbard was pastoring in Youngstown, Ohio, accepted and returned. Thus the nucleus of the first Cathedrals lineup was formed.

This lineup soon received so many invitations for personal appearances that they sang at concerts on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, appeared at all-night sings on Saturdays, performed for Rex Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow program on Sundays, and appeared on his television show tapings on Mondays.

In 1963, Earl Weatherford decided that he wanted his wife Lily Fern to return to the road, replacing Clark at the tenor / alto position. He told Rex Humbard about this plan, but Humbard vetoed the idea. As Bobby Clark later recalled, “He stated that the quartet was the best he had ever heard and that he would not allow it to be changed.” At this point, Weatherford informed Humbard that he would leave the Cathedral of Tomorrow. Earl and Lily Weatherford moved to California and established a new lineup there.

Meanwhile, Weatherfords bass singer Armond Morales had been contemplating a job offer from Jake Hess, who was leaving the Statesmen to start an all-star group he was going to call the Imperials. Morales decided to accept.

This left Clark, Payne, and Koker. They approached Rex Humbard and asked if they could remain and sing as a trio. He told that them if they could make their own living till fall, he would put them on the Cathedral of Tomorrow payroll. They were confident that they would meet the challenge, so they selected “The Cathedral Trio” as their name.

So Introducing the Cathedral Trio, and possibly their second (and only other) trio album, When the Saints Go Marching In, are as much a job audition as an album for the fans.

It is worth noting, though, that the liner notes seem to tell a somewhat different story. Rex Humbard introduces the album—and the group—in these words:

Although the Cathedral Trio is a comparatively new name in gospel singing circles, the three personable young men who make up the Trio are known for their great talents and, above all, their love of God. The Trio is seen and heard weekly on all the television and radio programs broadcast from the beautiful Cathedral of Tomorrow located in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Besides their appearances on television, at evangelistic rallies and concerts, they are employed by the Cathedral in three specific positions on the Cathedral staff. The songs found recorded in this album are the ones most frequently used by the Trio. They convey the love, mercy, and salvation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We hope this album will prove to be a continuous blessing to all who hear it.

The instrumentation throughout the album is fairly simple, as was customary for albums of the day; besides the piano, which is evidently by group baritone / pianist / arranger Danny Koker, session musicians included Rex Humbard’s sister Leona Jones on upright bass and his brother, the Reverend Clem Humbard, on banjo and guitar. Humbard, Rex’s brother, was the Youngstown pastor for whom Danny Koker had worked prior to Koker rejoining the Weatherfords. In The Cathedral Quartet: The Early Years, tenor Bobby Clark recalled that Vic Clay actually played lead and rhythm guitars, despite not being credited in the liner notes.

1. When I Looked Up. There is no solo, but tenor Bobby Clark takes the step-out lines. It’s a midtempo song (about 90 beats per minute), delivered in a straight-ahead convention style.

This song was written by Albert E. Brumley, and copyrighted in 1955 by the Stamps-Baxter Music Company in their songbook Gospel Light. The first known recorded version was by the Chuck Wagon Gang in 1957, on Sacred Songs. (They were the first to introduce many of Brumley’s songs, including “I’ll Fly Away.”) The Chuck Wagon Gang has recorded it several times since; other groups to record the song have included the Blue Ridge Quartet (~1960s), Blackwood Brothers (1973), and the Hoppers (1980).

2. Open Your Heart. Trio harmonies deliver the first verse and chorus, before Glen Payne takes a solo. A delightful unison line at 2:08 gives way to a line with trio harmonies, which is followed by two solo lines, with Bobby Clark and Danny Koker singing backup “ahs.” A tag with tight cascading harmonies brings the song to a close.

The song was written by country/western legend Tim Spencer, who was born in 1908 and was a founding member of the Sons of the Pioneers in 1933. Spencer became a Christian in 1949, and began to focus his efforts into Gospel Music. He led the religious record division at RCA Victor and went on to found Manna Music in 1955 (where he introduced talent like Audrey Mieir and Doris Akers). Spencer also wrote “Great Big Wonderful God” and “Cowboy Campmeetin’.” Spencer, who died in 1974, has been inducted into the GMA’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN, and the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK. Other Southern Gospel versions of the song include a 1961 cut by the Gospel Harmony Boys and 1967 and 1972 versions by the Blackwood Brothers.

3. On the Wings of a Dove. The song starts slowly, with an arpeggiated piano fill, and a slow, almost a cappella delivery of the last two lines of the chorus. But on the final word, “dove,” the piano, bass, and Clem Humbard’s chord banjo form an uptempo groove that is carried through the remainder of the song. Glen Payne has the solo, and the step-out lines in the chorus.

In one of those weird coincidences of history, the Blue Ridge Quartet, with George Younce at the bass position, cut the song the same year. They had initially recorded it in 1961, but did it again in a live 1963 concert recording, Live in Miami. Any number of other groups have also cut the song, including the LeFevres, the Dixie Echoes (three times), Harvesters, Florida Boys, Chuck Wagon Gang, Kingsmen, Melody Boys Quartet, and Dove Brothers. The Cathedrals themselves would later cut it again (in 1978, on Oh, What a Love). The song was written by Bob Ferguson, and was published in 1959. At the time of writing the song, Ferguson was working for the Tennessee Fish and Game Administration. Its remarkable success—BMI recognized the song in 1987 for having reached a million air plays—enabled Ferguson to go into the music business full-time, where he became a major player in country music and was instrumental in developing what has since become known as the “Nashville Sound.” Ferguson, who was born in 1927, died in 2001 of cancer.

4. In the Sweet Bye and Bye. This familiar hymn features trio harmonies throughout. The Cathedrals only sing the first verse, and then the chorus (twice), but the tempo is so slow that the song still clocks in at 3:26. A soothing piano and (plucked acoustic) bass provide the only accompaniment.

The song was written by pharmacist Sanford Bennett and musician Joseph Webster in 1867 or 1868, in Bennett’s drugstore. The lyrics and music were composed in about thirty minutes. Since that time, most Southern Gospel groups have put the song on a hymns project at some point or another; the arrangement here is essentially the same as Glen Payne cut with the Weatherfords (Lily / Glen / Earl / Armond Morales / Henry Slaughter) several years before, on The Weatherford Quartet Sings. The Cathedrals would revisit the song in 1976, on For Keeps, with George Younce adding a brief bass recitation.

5. Is Your Name Written There? This uptempo song starts off with a chorus, with unison vocals on the first line, breaking into parts for the second (and the remainder of the chorus). Though there’s no solo, Payne takes the lead step-out lines on the first chorus, Koker on the second, and Clark on the third.

Piano, bass, and guitar provide the accompaniment for most of the song; Clem Humbard joins on banjo for the final verse and choruses, rather prominently in the mix, offering some nice licks. This song was penned by James “Big Chief” Weatherington, bass singer for the Statesmen. It seems the song’s first recorded version may be on his 1962 album Big Chief of the Statesmen and his Golden Stairs Choir; the Statesmen cut it the next year, on A Gospel Concert. A number of other groups (the Kingsmen, Dixie Echoes, and LeFevres) also cut it right around this time.

6. Just a Closer Walk With Thee. After an opening chorus, Bobby Clark has the solo on the verse. He takes the melody through the second and final chorus, while Payne and Koker sing the answer-back part from the arrangement in vogue at the time.

The song’s authorship is anonymous; it came to prominence as a spiritual in the 1930s, crossing over to white Gospel in the 1940s. Virtually every quartet of the era, and many groups since, have performed the song. One prominent rendition a few years before the Cathedrals’ was the Blackwood Brothers’ 1959 version on Give the World A Smile; they did sing the answer-back arrangement that the Cathedrals did here.

7. It Is No Secret. The group sings the first two lines of the verse in unison before breaking into parts. On the line “Do not be disheartened,” they switch back to unison, before returning to harmony for the remainder of the verse and chorus. Glen Payne solos on the second verse, with Clark and Koker providing harmony parts on answer-back repeats. On the line “Take Him at His Promise,” parallel to the point where they sang unison in the first chorus, they go to unison again, splitting back into parts for the final chorus. They return to unision on the tag, using an arpeggiated harmony to return to parts for the close.

This would be the first of several Stuart Hamblen songs that the Cathedrals would cut over the years. In another of those odd coincidences of history, George Younce had recorded the song the year before, in 1962, on A Session with the Blue Ridge Quartet. The Cathedrals—this time with Younce—would revisit the song in 1975, on For Keeps. Hamblen had written the song eleven years before, in 1951, two years after his conversion at a Billy Graham Crusade, and this is another of the songs that virtually every Gospel group on the all-night-singing circuit cut at one point or another.

8. Then the Answer Came. Clem Humbard’s banjo kicks this mid-tempo song off, leading the band throughout. Danny Koker has step-out lines on the first chorus, but hands the solo over to Glen Payne for the verse. On the chorus, Bobby Clark takes the melody up into tenor regions for the remainder of the song.

The song was written by former Weatherfords pianist Henry Slaughter, and had been recorded by the Weatherford Quartet on Great Gospel Songs. The Dixie Echoes, Imperials, and Prophets are a few of the many other groups who cut the song in the early- to mid-1960s.

9. Let God Abide. Bobby Clark smoothly transitions between chest and head voice registers throughout this tenor feature. Payne and Koker provide some backups throughout, primarily on “oohs” and “aahs” in the verses, and singing the lyrics in harmony on the choruses. Payne steps up after a modulation at 3:00, and Clark moves to a high tenor harmony through the end of the song. It’s a mid-tempo song, featuring an uncredited guitar, probably a Hawaiian guitar, prominently in the mix.

On the LP, the song is credited to a “Scarbrough”; no first name is given. No song with this name and author appears in the ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC databases. The Couriers and Florida Boys both cut a song called “Let God Abide,” in 1963 and 1967, respectively, but it was a separate song by the same title.

10. Old Fashioned Meeting. The song starts off slowly, with Danny Koker singing the first verse solo, to a light arpeggiated piano accompaniment. On the chorus, Payne, Clark, and the band (bass and banjo) join in. Glen Payne sings the second verse. Bobby Clark takes the melody up on the second and third choruses, and Payne and Clark sing back-up answer-back parts.

The song was written by Herbert Buffum (1879-1939) in 1922; he is incorrectly credited on the LP as “Buffin,” suggesting that the copy was dictated orally. Buffum was an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene, and toured as a holiness / Pentecostal evangelist. He wrote 10,000 songs, of which 1,000 were published.

11. Saviour Gently Take Me Home. This is a slow song, featuring Glen Payne until a modulation after the final verse, where the melody moves up to the tenor regions, and Bobby Clark takes it through to the big ending.

The song was written by Mosie Lister, and was recorded in 1958 by the Oak Ridge Quartet and in 1960 by the Blackwoood Brothers. The Happy Goodmans did the song (with Vestal taking the solo) several years later, in 1968.

12. Room at the Cross. A light piano-and-bass accompaniment sets a meditative tone for this closing song. Bobby Clark is featured on the verse.

The song was written by Ira Stanphill in 1946 and has been recorded by dozens of Gospel groups, notably the Statesmen in 1960’s On Stage. The Cathedrals revisited the song twenty-five years later, on their landmark release Symphony of Praise.

At least eleven of the twelve songs—”Let God Abide” is the possible exception—had been previously recorded. The Cathedrals would revisit four of the songs on later project—two (“It is No Secret” and “Sweet Bye and Bye”) in 1975, on For Keeps, one (“On the Wings of a Dove”) in 1978, on Oh, What a Love, and one (“Room at the Cross”) in 1987 on Symphony of Praise. This would be the only time they would record “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” and “Old Fashioned Meeting.”

Introducing the Cathedral Trio is a fascinating glimpse at of three young men who didn’t have the faintest clue what would become of what they were starting. They certainly couldn’t have been thinking about the fact that, nearly fifty years later, the project would still merit a serious in-depth reexamination.

They sang mostly familiar songs—as they would also do for the next number of years. The accompaniment seems to have mostly been what was easily accessible; a banjo certainly wasn’t an obvious or common instrument to include at the time, but with Koker’s friendship with Clem Humbard, it was available. (In all fairness, it was incorporated quite well, unobtrusively where it needed to be unobtrusive.)

Honestly, on first listen, a new fan only accustomed to the last two decades of the Cathedrals repertoire might not be that impressed. Everything is delivered professionally, but subdued songs dominate the check-list. But the foreshadowing of greatness is clearly present—it’s merely that it’s subtle.

During their Weatherfords years, Clark, Payne, and Koker laid a solid foundation of paying attention to detail in working on matching vocal placement, and arranging harmony parts, to bring out the best possible blend. It would be nineteen years from the release of this project till “Step Into the Water” came out, and a full twenty before Live in Atlanta‘s “We Shall See Jesus.” During these two decades, particularly for the first half, the Cathedrals would be less known for the songs they introduced and more for the way they delivered familiar songs. This attention to vocal arrangements, particularly under Danny Koker’s eye for the first few years, laid the foundation for what would become the Cathedrals Sound that future lineups would carry into the stratosphere.

Song list: When I Looked Up; Open Your Heart; On the Wings of a Dove; In the Sweet Bye and Bye; Is Your Name Written There; Just a Closer Walk With Thee; It Is No Secret; Then the Answer Came; Let God Abide; Old Fashioned Meeting; Savior Gently Take Me Home; Room at the Cross. • Group members: Bobby Clark, Glen Payne, Danny Koker. • Out of print.

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99 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. Daniel, great review! I’m looking forward to your future reviews of the Cahtedrals’ older releases.

    • Thanks! I’ve been waiting for two and a half hours, somewhat impatiently, wondering if anyone would read the whole thing and comment! 🙂

      • Fantastic – and historic, probably in more ways than one Daniel!

        I didn’t know, until now, that George was not in the original Cathedral lineup. Fascinating stuff.

        A couple of comments:

        Perhaps you could hignlight a little more clearly [or boldly] the actual composition of the group being featured – on a quick scan, it is not so obvious, here, that you are reviewing the singing of; Bobby Clark, Danny Koker and Glenn Payne; and NOT just the “Cathedral’s”.

        Also, if the original material is not avaliable on Youtube, one link to say, ‘Cathedral’s Reunion’ appripriate track would help.

        I know Danny Koker was the only absent alumni, as far as I know – but, for example Bobby Clark – someone mentioned already they had never heard his voice – fronted on 2 tracks.

        A “sample” link for the sound of each featured line-up would be nice.

        Big Thank You for this great beginning though!

        [An identified comment from a, living, Cat’s alumnus would be nice as well!]

      • An identified comment from a non-living Cathedral member would be even more awesome. 😀

      • I’m avoiding putting YouTube links or embeds in the post, because I think that just doesn’t fit the serious, almost academic direction of the content. But feel free to put them in the comments!

        Oh, and see below for the identified comment. 🙂

  2. Impressive, as usual. I’m looking forward to these because it will be something we won’t be able to find anywhere else. I doubt I’ll ever get to hear most of these recordings from the early years, but your descriptions of the songs are clear enough for me to “hear” what they would sound like.

    I know what it’s like to write a long review like this for a Cathedrals project. I did something like this for Symphony of Praise a while back (I think I told you about it on SGF), and it took a couple hours at least. But, unlike you, I haven’t found time to do any more, lol.

    • Only time will tell if I can sustain something like this for ~70 records over the course of probably two years!

      You’re right – nothing like this is anywhere else, which is why I decided to give it a try.

    • I’m a perfectionist, so it would probably take me a few *days* with all the polishing and what-not. Let’s see if Daniel can keep it up! I was just over on the tribute site counting recordings, and I came up with about 70 too. Wow.

      • This took me two weeks. 🙂

      • Well with something this old that makes sense since you had to research everything.

      • True!

      • NSF, Make Daniel another offer!

      • 🙂 I think this is Daniel’s baby. But we’ll see…

      • Oh, David, be looking for another contribution from me in a week or two though. No details yet, but it’ll be a good ‘un. 🙂

  3. I read it, Daniel, and am impressed with what you glean from the past, never having lived that era as an adult. We Couriers worked a ton of dates with the Cathedral Trio initially and then as they ultimately became the Cathedral Quartet. From their very beginning with the Weatherfords they were gentlemen of integrity and wholesome character who could literally nail a song to the wall with power and excitement.

    Their first group vehicle was the smallest, shortest Winnebago ever made. They were a sight to see coming down the road, but when it was time to sing there was an apparent distinction that set them apart. The basis for their later recognized greatness was established in those formative trio years with Danny, Glen and Bobby.

    George Younce was the final piece to the puzzle that sent the Cathedrals soaring. For one who had never been an emcee, he caught on quickly and learned to let his heart show and to genuinely love the people.

    My memories of the early days of the Cathedrals are treasured and you have managed to craft their story with your usual accuracy and finesse.

    • Neil,

      Thank you! History is my background, after all, not journalism – even though I’ve been doing this primarily as a journalist for the last four years.

      Other than possibly a comment from a Cathedrals member themselves, I don’t think a compliment from anyone else could mean more. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting!

  4. Daniel, tell us more about these three voices. Most of us haven’t heard much of Clark or Koker. What familiar voices, if any, can you compare them to?

    I know that in later years they always had a baritone with a big range that could sing above Glen when needed. Was this true of Koker?

    I believe Clark was a powerful tenor. What kind of range did he display on these songs?

    • Bobby Clark was a lyric tenor – think Larry Ford, but maybe a little higher, maybe a little more flair on an uptempo song at points.

      Koker could sing lead, but had a voice tone that was a little less polished than Payne’s. He didn’t take too many solos.

      • Bobby Clark was trained as an opera singer. He was also asked by Hovie Lister to join the Statesmen after the passing of Denver Cumpler.
        Danny Koker did all of the arrangments for the Cathedrals while he was with the group.
        Bobby Clark wrote about these things in his book that was released last year.

  5. Good stuff Daniel. This is very interesting to me reading about those old albums. I never have had a Cathedral’s Trio album. My Mom probalby had one, but not anymore.

    • There were only two, and they’re practically impossible to find.

      • hey stuart, this is the other kingsmen collector. daniel i have there 1st one, but never able to obtain the 2nd. only seen it once on a list somewhere. do you have it. how about a cd copy or tape. thanks

      • I do have it. However, even if an album is out of print, it is still a violation both of the overall album copyright and of individual song copyrights to copy it for someone else. While I would love to be able to help you out, I cannot break the laws.

      • daniel, do you want to sell it. the 2nd lp. when the saints go marchin in. Dovine 90 i believe.

      • You couldn’t get it from me for $500!

      • You can look on Ebay for both albums. They are listed there occasionally and that is where I got my copies.

  6. Brian…Danny Koker had what I consider the most unique voice that the Cathedrals ever had. His voice almost Frank Sinatra-Rat Pack-Las Vegas like sound to it. It had an great quality and edge. His solo on “Take This Whole World” off of “The Cathedrals With Strings” is one to listen to. I think he was a big part of what made them successful in the early years.

    • With Strings and With Brass are available in CD form, and I’ve been wanting to get them. They’re on my very long list of projects to get.

      I recently obtained Family Album, which I just saw (from Daniel’s Cathedrals site) had Koker and Clark on it. It’s obviously not the best album to get a feel for their voices, but maybe I’ll give it a closer listen next time.

  7. I want to hear it! This is like reading a great review of the Grand Canyon. It makes me sad not to have access, but very professional job. And I love the touch of telling me where each song has been done since. Thanks!

    • You’re welcome!

      If this was like a review of the Grand Canyon, by the time I get to the 70s and 80s, be looking for something along the lines of a review of the Pacific Ocean!

      (I love that line, by the way!)

      • When you get to the albums of the 80s, then I’ll be able to chime in and tell you when you’re wrong. 😉

      • LOL…I’ll help you with that, Brian! Anything to be a blessing. 😉

      • I’ll lend a hand when he gets to the 90’s… 😀

      • I immediately loved that line, too!

  8. I can recall two albums that in my collection ,they were Cathedrals with Brass and Cathedrals with Strings.Both very good music.

    • They were early enough in the Cathedrals’ discography that I should get to them within the next few weeks.

    • I’m looking for info about a song my grandma wrote that was sold to Jim? It was on an album and He sang at Cathedral of Tomorrow. I believe it was titled Too Many Wasted Years. Any info would be appreciated.

      • Amber, I’m familiar with a song called “Wasted Years” (“Wasted Years, wasted years, oh, how foolish…”) that is purported to have been written by Wally Fowler. Is that the song you are talking about? I’m not familiar with any song by the exact title that you mention.

  9. I really enjoyed this review Daniel! I am really looking forward to the upcoming Cat’s reviews and history!

    • I’m looking forward to writing them! But I sure hope I have 70+ albums’ worth of stamina!

      • You could always ask for a guest review Daniel. My writing style is not as polished as yours but I do have all but one of the 70 or so projects. The only one I don’t have is The Land Of Living.

  10. This was a great album. As good an album of trio music as you want to hear. Danny Koker was a master arranger.

  11. Daniel: Great idea! and I loved the review.

    Enlighten 34 was broadcasting The Cathedrals Travelin Live over the weekend, and it just reminded me how outstanding and unique they were. I know a DVD of the concert has been re-issued, but is there a cd version of it?

  12. I hope they do release a CD version of Travelin Live I would love to own that!

  13. I wish they would release Land of Living and Travelin’ Live on CD. I would say it would never happen, but they did put the Travelin’ Live video (which I had a copy of) on DVD (mostly). I wouldn’t have guessed that ever happening.

    Next, putting An Old Convention Song and Especially For You from the original masters would be good. I have the double CD of Prestigious and An Old Convention Song, but they had to take a couple of songs off to fit to the CD (in addition to taking off Old Convention Song once since it was on each lp. 🙂 )

    Then, my next one would be releasing the Canaan, private label etc. to CD from the masters. Oh, and even before most if not all of these, put all of their videos on DVD that weren’t done including the Columbus Ohio one. 🙂 Yeah, I know…pipe dreams.

  14. Daniel,

    You certainly put your heart and soul into this review. Personally, I think Bobby Clark and Danny Koker were two of the most talented individuals that ever joined Glen and George in the Cathedrals.

    What more can you tell us about the Blue Ridge “Live in Miami” recording?

    • John,

      You’re the last person I would expect to ask, since I work under the general assumption that you own every SG album ever produced. 😀

      Song list:
      1. Stand By Me – featuring George Younce
      2. Wings of a Dove
      3. Sinner Come Home
      4. Sinner Come Home – Reprise
      5. Bits of Hits (I’m In His Care / Lead Me to the Rock / Dry Bones)
      6. Wasted Years
      7. Twenty-one
      8. No Disappointments in Heaven
      9. He Cares For You
      10. Moving Up to Heaven

      This observation has been made before, even on this site, but for newer people here, it’s easy to see the influence the Blue Ridge Quartet’s Younce era has had on EHSS. 🙂

      • Thanks for the kind words, Daniel. The reason I asked is because I thought I had about every Blue Ridge album, and this isn’t one of them.

        Just wondered . . . do you have this on vinyl?

        In recent months, I was sent some files erroneously labeled as “Blue Ridge Live in Miami”. They were actually recorded at a Gospel Singing Caravan concert in Virginia. Roy McNeal singing tenor with the Blue Ridge that evening. Just wondered if this was the same thing.

      • I’m on the road this week and not quite sure. I thought so, since it certainly sounds like vinyl scratches at points . . .

        Do you have a song list for the files you have?

      • Yes, and it’s identical to the song titles you’ve provided. Same songs, same order. Although this is a very well-made live recording, I don’t believe it was ever released on vinyl.

      • OK. I’ll need to check on that when I get home.

      • If it wasn’t vinyl, what would it have been?

      • Well, it would have had to have been transferred to something, because I don’t have reel-to-reel.

        Amy and John, if you could remember to check back with me in 6-8 weeks, I should have some time to check then.

      • I’m seriously asking, though, in true pardon-my-ignorance style, what it would have been on if it was never released on vinyl, since John said he didn’t believe it was. Or did they already have tapes in ’61! (I just haven’t been around that long.)

      • Amy, I had what I think to be the original recording of this program. It was a 7″ reel of tape that was quite common in that era. They worked on the same theory as a cassette, except that you had an empty reel and a full reel, threaded the player, and played the music.

        This particular concert may have been recorded by a Virginian who also recorded all of the early National Quartet Conventions. His reel to reel recorder is on display in the SGMA Hall of Fame.

        Although this is a good recording, it was never intended to be released to the general public. I have no idea when it became known as “Live in Miami”, for it was recorded in Virginia. Others on the program included the Johnson Sisters, Prophets, and LeFevres.

      • OK, thank you. I am familiar with reel-to-reels, although my dad junked his a few years ago without really consulting me. 🙁 I just didn’t know that they were used to release albums.

        Or maybe they weren’t – I guess that’s what you’re saying, that it was an amateur recording.

      • I looked through several of my LP shelves and didn’t see it, but I haven’t been through all of them yet. The part that’s really puzzling me is where on earth I would have gotten it from, if not from an LP, since I don’t recall getting it directly from anyone.

      • Amy, there were a few recordings in the 1960s that were released on the reel to reel format. However, this concert was just recorded live on someone’s reel to reel player for their personal use. It was never intended to be offered to the public.

        I first saw a copy of this unauthorized or “bootleg” concert for sale in the mid 1980s on a cassette tape which was transferred from the original reel to reel master tape.

      • John, that probably explains that. I was almost completely sure I’d purchased it in some format, and it was probably cassette. I don’t have reel-to-reel, and I’m pretty sure nobody emailed mp3s to me, since I typically say no to such offers.

  15. Daniel,

    Wow! Great review! I am a bit of a Cathedral collector. I actually have the album you reviewed. It’s an incredible listen! The first Cathedral Quartet with Glen, George, Danny Coker, and Bobby Clark were, imho, the best version of all. From a strictly vocal standpoint, they were my favorite version of the Cathedrals (although I loved them all). I actually met Bobby Clark at last year’s NQC and bought his book “The Cathedral Quartet – The Early Years”. Thanks for doing this Daniel! Outstanding!

    • Thank you! I actually got that book at NQC, too, even with it taking me several days to actually track Clark down!

  16. Occasionally, the two Cathedral Trio albums will pop up on ebay. I have them both and only paid $20 or so each but I have seen them go MUCH higher than that.

    • I’ve seen the same. I don’t remember what I paid apiece – I seem to think about $25 – but it sure was worth it!

      • I didn’t pay all that much for either one but I have seen the first one go for more than $85 on Ebay.

  17. I found the first for I think $3.00 at a record shop in Indy probably close to 20 years ago. The second I had finally as I recall was approached by an eBay member maybe 5 or so years ago (after he saw me win a Cats record). He made me the offer of what he paid for it. It was pricey, but I was concerned it would not show up again, so I got it. The price? $80. I believe. I have seen it on there since and at times has gone high (can’t recall just how high.)

    • Sorry for the poor grammar at the beginning. At first I thought I saw it on eBay, then I remembered it was an offer. I never deleted everything when making the correction.

  18. For those who wanted an identifiable quote from a non-living Cathedrals member:

    “Well, GLORY!”

    – George Younce.

    Happier now? 😀

    • 😀 lol

      filler filler filler

      • “Hah!” Glenn Payne.

    • “You gonna hurt yourself…” George to Glen.

  19. Great! Really enjoyed the read. Makes me miss those old men though. Can’t wait to see what quartets they have formed in Heaven! Maybe at the corner of Hallelujah Blvd. and Amen Corner.

    • No no. It’s Love Avenue and Hallelujah Street, remember? 😉

  20. To the two or three of you interested in guest reviews: Start work now, if you like. By the time the series is complete, if you have put together a “second take” review on one of the other projects I’ve reviewed, and it’s of a similar depth and research quality but makes separate and salient points, by all means I’d be happy to run it as a guest column then!

    • You can use my Symphony of Praise review if you want. I used to think I wanted to start my own blog…but now I’m not thinking I have the time or the drive.

      • Let’s get in touch in about two years on that. I just don’t want to scoop myself!

      • Haha…I’ll put it on my calendar. 😉

  21. This was a GREAT review, Daniel. It’s so interesting to know all about the “Cathedrals”. I don’t remember the “trio” but sure do remember the quartet singing on the Cathedral of Tomorrow television program.

    • Neat that you remember them singing on the TV program! I look forward to your comments when I’m discussing that era, then.

  22. Wow, I would really like to have this album. I thought that you didn’t have it yourself, not very long ago.

    Thanks for letting me know who Buffum was. Can you imagine reminiscing in 1922 about an old-fashioned meeting? What would he think now?

    • I didn’t have it till probably a year and a half ago.

  23. Speaking of the Cathedrals, here is something that has bugged me for years (but not continuously :D) I have never said anything, but way back on your tribute site and in comments you have made, you call one of their lps “Seniors in Season.” If my memory is right and there are no alternates, the title is actually “Seniors in Session.” I feel SO much better now that I have unburdened myself. 😀 Let me know how things turn out.

    • Thanks! I wish you’d told me years ago. I’m always up for fixing a typo!

      • I’m surprised no one else ever said anything. 🙂 I know I have seen you talk about it by that title a few times at least too. 🙂

      • BTW, I also found that album app. 2 decades ago for $3. (Same place as the first trio one.)

      • I’ve used both. Just didn’t pay as close of attention as I should have!

  24. Thank you for the review Daniel. You’ve brought back golden memories for me.

    Not only did I look forward to the Cathedral of Tomorrow broadcast and sat enthralled watching the Cathedrals plus loved Maude Amy and Lily as well…but I was “privileged” to have helped bring the Weatherfords to our local Ohio venue. It’s an experience I will never forget. Lily was with them, I believe right around 1961 or so. They were truly golden gems!

    • That was one incredible lineup, indeed! Glad you enjoyed the review.

  25. Daniel i’ve got this album, and it’s amazing, i saw the 2nd album (trio) on a newsgroup a while ago, but i failed to download it before it was ‘pulled’ from the site. Anyway..i got that ‘Land of The Bible’ album recently..and man is that a awesome album too..that is if you can stand Rex Humbard introducing the songs.I have cut the intros by Rex..for listening pleasure in the car. I have almost every record by the Cats..but i have to say that as far as class is involved, the first line up of George,Glen,Bobby and the incomparable Danny Koker had the classiest sound of all line ups…
    Love the review, can’t wait you reviewing the “Keep On Singing” album from the late 70’s.Job Daniel!

    • LOL i just saw your Keep on Singing review..and i agree 100%..sorry 4 that.

  26. Hi Daniel, I really appreciate what you are doing. Don’t give up. I think the 3 best quartet albums of all time are “Cathedrals With Strings,” Cathedrals With Brass,” and “In The Garden” by the Weatherfords. Glen Payne is singing on that one.

    • Thank you! “In the Garden” is also one of my all-time favorites – as a matter of fact, I have been playing it this morning at work!

  27. Daniel: Thank you for this review. It obviously took a lot of thought and research, and we get to just sit here and read it without any effort. My husband and I are from the 60’s and 070’s era of southern gospel music and this is the best and most informative thing I’ve read on the subject. Thank you so much!

  28. see ebay advance ,seller positive_place7077,your correct ,however there was an earlier Cathedral trio ,from rex humbards cathedral of tomorrow ,they were women see story thanks

  29. Daniel just thought I would comment on your review. Really enjoyed it. The one thing I would add is the contribution of Danny Koker to the original Cathedrals. First of all his voice. He had an incredible range because he took the second tenor part on a lot of the songs they sang in the higher keys and Glenn would take the baritone kind of the way it was when Mark Trammel and Scott Fowler where there. A good example is the song “Return” which is on the “With Brass” album. Second of all his arranging and piano playing were very unique. I would assume he was responsible for most of the arrangements on their 2 classic albums “With Brass” and “With Strings”. I have to say I have never heard arrangements on a Southern Gospel album quite this. Sometimes he goes for a classical feel on some songs and on some songs there’s a big band sound. His piano work on these 2 projects is nothing short of extraordinary.

    • Great observations. I’ve also noticed Koker on a higher harmony part than Payne’s in certain songs.

      I don’t know to what extent he was responsible for the orchestrations on “With Brass” and “With Strings,” but both were pretty incredible. There are certain resemblances to what Lari Goss would later bring into the genre, but these albums are delivered with a ’50s Sacred Music sensibility that pretty much can’t quite be duplicated after the fact. You had to have lived there, with Eisenhower as your President, recovering from World War II, et cetera, to make those albums.

  30. Those Trio lp’s are difficult to find, especially in good condition. I have been a southern gospel record dealer for 25 years, and have acquired around 8 copies of “Introducing” and 5 copies of “When The Saints Go Marching In”. At one time I had a sealed copy of “Introducing” that I sold for $225.00. Back 30 years ago when I started collecting, the prices of lp’s were much higher than they are today. This was before the days of Ebay, which has more or less watered down the availability of these recordings.


  1. Cathedral Quartet: Beyond the Sunset (1964) | - [...] (Koker also assumed baritone duties.) They made two recordings while present on an interim basis, Introducing the Cathedral Trio and…