Reunion 2002


Reunion Next?

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Celebrate Life!

Reunion 1997


Maranatha Members and Friends
Maranatha means "Come, O Lord"

Celebrate Life!
Updated July 24, 2003

(Click Play for The Postlude)

Please see below for information about Celebrate Life! CDs, music books, and Internet links
Celebrate Life!, written by Buryl Red (music) and Ragan Courtney (lyric),  is the musical pulpit-drama presented by the Maranatha Singers on various choir tours in the 1970s and 80s.  I caught up with Mr Courtney via email . . .

Subject:  Celebrate Life!
   Date:  Wed, 10 Feb 1999
   From:  Curt Cassingham
     To:  Ragan Courtney

Mr Ragan Courtney
Houston TX

Dear Mr Courtney,
    It's amazing - one plugs "Buryl Red" into an internet search engine, and finds him at http://www.thecenturymen.com.  And, when one looks for "Ragan Courtney", one finds you at http://www.hbu.edu/!
   Back in the 70s, I was blessed with being involved with Mr Red's and your wonderful Celebrate Life!, through the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church.  It was debuted at Menlo in April 1973, and presented by our Maranatha Singers high school choir, directed by Dan Bird, to many congregations during the next ten or 12 summertime concert tours.  Matter of fact, we played our background tape so much it wore out, and we managed to get a studio-quality dub from its master tape at Woodland Studios.  Like many people we know and don't know, it changed my life forever.  Thank you for contributing to that!
    The Singers had a reunion the summer of 1997, where many of us saw each other after over twenty years.  Of course, we ran through Celebrate Life!, from the organ prelude through the postlude.  Oh, the memories it evoked!  I think my favorite piece is "Hello Baby".  I included it some years later in a Christmas program I directed.
     We've started a small website as a result of that reunion.  Lately, interest has grown to the point we'd like to expand it to include a section about CL.  To make sure we don't violate anyone's copyrights, I wonder if I could trouble you with this inquiry - With whom should we inquire for permission to reprint they lyrics?  I can't find a web reference to Broadman Press, the original publishers.  One search for CL did turn up Hal Leonard, but their server is always "too busy, try later"!
    Is there a web or another source for the history behind CL, and how you and Mr Red came together to create it?  We'd like to include a little of those insights in our web pages.
    I appreciate how busy you must be with your duties at HBU, but I'm glad your web page there included your email address.

Curt Cassingham

Subject: Celebrate Life!
   Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999
  From: Ragan Courtney
    To: Curt Cassingham

Dear Curt,
    Sorry to be so long answering your email.  I'm slow, what can I say?  Thank you for the kind words about Celebrate Life!  That work is still in print and it is published by Broadman Publishers, but the Baptist Sunday School Board has gone through major restructuring and they are now called Lifeway Resources...their address is 127 Ninth Avenue,North, Nashville, TN 37234.
    Buryl Red composed the music to this work of mine, and he got a young lady to sing the solos for the initial recording.  Her name was Cynthia Clawson. I went to direct the first performance of Celebrate Life! and met her and fell deeply in love.  We were married the next year. (That was 26 years ago!)  I have been celebrating ever since.  I have continued writing, and she became a rather well known gospel singer with 17 recordings to he credit, a GRAMMY and five Dove Awards.  We have two children.  We try to keep in touch with Buryl who lives in NYC, but we don't see him nearly as often as we would like to. At last count sales for Celebrate Life! were nearing the one million mark. Last year Second Baptist Church of Houston, Texas celebrated the 26th anniversary of the publication of this work with about 6,000 people there to see it performed.  It was pretty spectacular, and we were given nice plaques by the publisher.  Through the years I have heard from countless people who have done this work, and God has touched their hearts during the process of doing it.  I was a new Christian when I wrote the book and lyrics, little did I know that the effects of this work would be so far reaching.

Blessings on you and yours.
Ragan Courtney

About the availability of Celebrate Life!
Menlo Maranatha does not own the rights to Celebrate Life!, nor do we have available any music books or recordings.  The original publisher still owns it.  Today they're known as Broadman and Holman, and it's available through their distributor, LifeWay Resources:

Music Book:

"Listening" CD:

Broadman and Holman: