Spiritual Music


.I. ‘Hymns for All Churches,’ a daytime radio broadcast that originated in the ‘Great
….Depression,’ gained a loyal nationwide audience during and after World War II.

Quoting its founder and baritone soloist, Joe Emerson, “’Hymns of All Churches’ (was) dedicated to promoting understanding among people of all creeds through the finest and best-loved hymns of all times. Directed by Fred Jacky, this non-sectarian program satisfied the spiritual needs of countless listeners, reminded as many more that religion is still one of the most vital forces in life. With Franklyn MacCormack as featured artist, ‘Hymns of All Churches’ soloists included Louise Weber, soprano; Margery Mayer, contralto; Lillian Chookasian, contralto; and Bruce Foote, baritone”.

From her first signing in June 1939, through 1947, “Hymns of All Churches” was for Margery Mayer a regular three to four day weekly commitment (and reliable income generator). As with her soloist colleagues, Miss Mayer, attracted regular listeners from across the nation, and their favorite requests were frequently recognized in dozens of broadcasts in which she was featured as soloist.

Around this mainstay, the tabs on this site account for many trials and successes Miss Mayer had while still in her twenties. These included launching an opera career with four companies, auditioning twice for the Metropolitan Opera, getting married, having a baby, tending for a terminally ill husband, becoming a single parent (with assistance from her relatives), coping with wartime economic deprivations and transit challenges, while twice touring coast-to-coast appearing in lead roles to popular acclaim, and even getting married a second time.

The Playlist above contains 12 selections reflecting the evolving needs and moods of the country spanning from 1943, a period of dark despair, up through 1946, with a decidedly more hopeful, upbeat post-war citizenry. Tracks 2 through 9 are all from a singular “Hymns of All Churches” broadcast, the afternoon after the D-Day Landing in Normandy, France, including the first dramatic reports from the battle front.

More: View photos of “Hymns of All Churches” production setting at WGN, Chicago.

More: List of known solo appearances by Margery Mayer on “Hymns of All Churches.”

DayYearMargery Mayer Solos as known about2nd Solos/DuetsThird Solo
Mon6/26/1939Margery Mayer signed to Hymns of All Churches.
Mon1/15/1940Rejoined Hymns of all Churches after complete recovery from hospital minor operation
Thu8/1/1940Substitute for Mayer in Hymns of all churches due to pregnancy
Sat11/30/19401st Metropolitan Opera Audition of the Air
Margery Mayer may not have sung with Hymns of All Churches from August 1940 to May 1943 (pregnancy, sickness and death of husband, and San Carlo Opera Tours)
Thu8/13/1942Margery Mayer is mentioned as singing with HoAC and had been a Met semifinalist
Sun1/3/1943Mentioned as singing with HoAC and winning praise for Siebel in Faust with Chicago Opera
Sun1/31/1943Mayer established as 5 years with Chicago Opera and used for Hymns of All Churches publicity (nationwide)
Mon3/29/1943Mayer rejoins Hymns of All Churches after second tour with San Carlo Opera Company.
Sun5/9/1943Hymns of All Churches Enters its 10 th year (9th anniversary). Three soloists mentioned: Gloria Swanson, Margery Mayer and Lillian Chookasian.
Tue9/14/1943O'er Waiting Harpstrings of the Mind (Mary Baker Eddie Hymn)"Move Up the King's Highway" Spiritual, duet with tenor
Mon10/18/1943"Saved by Grace", Duet with Bruce Foote
Mon1/3/19442nd Metropolitan Opera Audition of the Air (carried nationwide, including on St. Louis, KXOX 1:30)
Wed9/20/1944O'er Waiting Harpstrings of the Mind (Mary Baker Eddie Hymn)"Deep River"
Tue3/27/1945"He Never Said a Mumblin' Word" (Has dropped in from tour with San Carlo Opera)
Sun5/6/1945On tour again with San Carlo Opera
Wed5/16/1945"Father See Thy Suppliant Children"
Mon7/2/1945Margery Mayer and :Lilli Choukasian are the Contraltos on Hymns of All Churches
Mon7/9/1945"Have Thine Own Way Lord"
Mon7/16/1945"Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child"
Mon7/23/1945Twenty-third Psalm, The Lord is My Shepherd - James Montgomery"If I have wounded"
Thu8/2/1945Twenty-third Psalm, The Lord is My Shepherd - MalotteI Need Thee Every Hour
Mon8/6/1945"Deep River""Saviour, Breath an Evening Blessing"
Tue8/14/1945"Veni Jesu Amor Mi""Ivory Palaces"VJ-Day
Mon8/20/1945"Steal Away""Whispering Hope""Beneath the Cross of Jesus"
Mon8/27/1945"The Rosary" - Ethelbert Nevins
Wed9/5/1945"Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen""Lead Me Gently Home" - Duet with Soprano
Wed9/12/1945"The Lord Is My Shepherd""Lead Kindly Light"
Wed9/19/1945"O Dreamer Leave They Dreams" to the tune of Danny Boy
Fri9/28/1945"As Thou Wilt""Odom Olom""Beneath the Cross of Jesus"
Thu10/11/1945Whispering Hope
Thu12/6/1945Swing LowThe Eastern Gate
Tue1/8/1946Lead me Gently Home - Duet with Margery Mayer and Louise Weber
Thu1/24/1946Steal AwayBrood O'er Us
Tue3/19/1946If I have Wounded Any Soul Today
Thu3/28/1946Twenty-third Psalm, The Lord is My Shepherd - James Montgomery
Tue4/2/1946Just as I amLove one another
Fri8/16/1946The Quiet Hour - Duet with Margery Mayer and Louise Weber
Mon8/19/1946Steal Away
Tue3/25/1947Bless This House
Thu4/10/1947Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen
Mon5/5/1947The Twenty-third Psalm
Tue5/20/1947The Lord is my Shepherd
Tue6/3/1947Shepherd Show Me How to Go
Mon7/21/1947Goin' Around Takin' Names
Mon8/4/1947Ivory PalacesO Lord, I am not Worthy
Thu8/14/1947O'er Waiting Harpstrings of the Mind

II. Margery Mayer was soloist consecutively at two Jewish Reform Synogogues, in the
Chicago and New York metropolitan areas respectively, from 1939 – 1974.

Miss Mayer was soloist with the choir at North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe, Illinois, for periods during 1939 – 1945 under the leadership of Rabbi Charles E. Shulman and Cantor Benjamin Landsman. The following example from that period appears as track 13 on the Playlist.

  1. Ve’Ulai                                                          Poem by Rachel Blaustein, Music by Yehuda Sharet.
More: Hebrew Transliteration and English Translation of the Poem Ve’Ulai (Perhaps).

Ve’ulai lo hayu hadvarim me’olam
Veulai meolam lo hishkamti im shachar lagan
Le’avdo beze’at apay…
Me’olam – bayamim arukim veyokdim
Arukim veyokdim shel katsir
Bimromei agalah amusat alumot
Lo natati koli bashir
Me’olam lo taharti bitchelet shoktah Uvatom
Shel Kimmeret sheli.
Hoy Kinneret sheli
Heyayit, o chalamti chalom?
Perhaps it was never so.
Perhaps I never woke early and went to the fields
To labor in the sweat of my brow
Nor in the long blazing days Of harvest
On top of the wagon laden with sheaves.
Made my voice ring with song,
Nor bathed myself clean in the calm Blue water
Of my Kinneret.
O, my Kinneret,
Were you there or did I only dream?

Recorded in 1942 (perhaps one of the earliest recordings of this beloved song)
by Margery Mayer, contralto with William Sumner, organist

Miss Mayer was contralto soloist with the professional quartet at Riverdale Temple, Bronx, New York from 1948 – 1974, again under the leadership of founding Rabbi Charles E. Shulman and William Sumner as Organist and Music Director. The following example is a song for Evening Shabbat and is track 14 on the Playlist.

  1. Hashkivenu                                                                                                              Music by Pender.

Recorded in 1955 on “Songs of Riverdale Temple” album
by Margery Mayer, contralto and William Sumner, organist,
and introduction by Rabbi Charles E. Shulman.

More: View photos of Riverdale Temple Musician Colleagues and Rabbi Shulman.

The following is an alternative Playlist containing only selections by Miss Mayer from this page: