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.”

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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: