Yesterday I had the pleasure of being with Welch College’s Rejoice! Ministry Team at Heritage Free Will Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio. We were so warmly welcomed by the pastor, Tim Stout, and his growing congregation.
This ten-voice ensemble travels across the country ministering in churches and serving as ambassadors of Welch College. They did an excellent job in both capacities. After the morning worship service, the church provided a delicious luncheon for us.
Toward the end of the luncheon, the students broke out into their customary a capella song, “For Food and Hospitality”:
For food and hospitality, we thank you now, dear friends.
Your kindness we shall ne’er forget until our journey ends.
We thank you! We thank you! May God be good to you!
For food and hospitality, we thank you now, dear friends!
This is so customary that they often do it at restaurants—to the rave reviews of diners (I receive letters from complete strangers bragging about this and how impressed they are by our students.) When they did this, I joined in, because this is the same custom we followed when I toured with the College Choir as a student in the mid-1980s.
As we sang, I thought back to our annual Christmas Board Dinner at this past December meeting of the Welch College Board of Trustees. With our Board members and leadership team members and spouses gathered, someone brought up this song, and there was quite a lively discussion about it, who remembered singing it, and when it was introduced.
We finally decided that it was being sung at the end of tour meals at least as early as the late 1960s. Then, when I asked the kitchen and wait staff from our food service provider, Pioneer College Caterers, to come out and let us thank them, someone started singing “For Food and Hospitality,” and several in the group sang along.
What an interesting, wonderful, and culturally enriching tradition! I would be interested if any of my readers who sang in the choir or music groups in the 1950s or 1960s can provide information on the origin of this song and its introduction to Welch College culture. If you can, please click the “Contact” tab above and let me hear from you!