It's a small part of a larger search: The Faithful Journey Quartet has been looking high and low for a new tenor singer for over six months.
"Yes, we've been seeking in many different directions," said Jim Visser, lead singer and manager of the West Michigan-based group. "We've put a message on a (gospel music) magazine posting board, I've placed notices with some of the larger local churches, and other gospel quartets in the area know that we're looking," added Visser, 52.
"We've found out that there are a lot of groups nationally that are looking for tenors."
The search began in earnest last summer after the departure of tenor singer Doug Barton. The group has auditioned several new singers, but none of them stuck.
"We had one young man try out who did an awesome job...but he was point blank with us: he just didn't have the heart for it," explained Visser of the necessary commitment. "For me it's a real passion. I get all geeked up about it when we get to go sing somewhere."
Faithful Journey did more than 40 performances during 2016 at churches, campgrounds and other venues, with the summer their busiest season.
ON A JOURNEY
Visser, who runs a construction business, is a suburban Wyoming native and a Calvin Christian High School graduate. He recalls his family listening to the Sunday gospel music request show on WFUR-FM (102.9) on which many Southern gospel groups are featured.
"We used to go see the Heralders quite often when I was a kid," said Visser of the now-retired local group. "From my younger days I just loved the harmonies and I always wanted to do that."
He sang in several choirs in church and school and eventually joined the mixed choral ensemble Touch of Joy, a Christian music group which performed throughout the area.
But a brief stint in an Ohio-based gospel quartet renewed his interest in quartet singing. Visser teamed with baritone Scott Roon (a fellow Touch of Joy alum), who knew bass singer Dennis Deters. The three found a tenor and debuted in 2011, with the release of their first album the following year.
The Faithful Journey repertoire is a mixture of hymns and gospel tunes, largely done in four-part harmony. Renditions of hymnbook fixtures such as "All Hail the Power" and "The Old Rugged Cross" are interspersed with gospel standards like the uptempo "Standing On the Solid Rock" and "The Good Ole' Gospel Ship."
"We do a version of 'It Is Well With My Soul' that has a powerful message of hope and trust," Visser said of the noted hymn.
Another noteworthy song is "I'll Keep Trusting On," by veteran Southern gospel songwriter Dianne Wilkinson originally written for a colleague who died of cancer.
"We don't have that same circumstance, but its message of trusting God is for all of us," he said of the ballad which they often use to close their concerts.
The quartet's most recent album is "Find Us Faithful," recorded in West Virginia under the direction of producer-arranger-songwriter John Rowsey, who also sings with The Guardians.
Visser has taken voice lessons through the years, but also has received training at the Steve Hurst School of Music in Tennessee. Sessions there include tips on stage poise and presentation, and effective communication of the musical message.
LOOKING AHEAD ON THE JOURNEY
With just three of the usual four voices, Visser is hesitant about booking singing dates for later this year.
An initial concert with just the three singers went well. He said that nearly 20 of their songs work in a trio format.
Once a new tenor is on board, according to Visser, the group can plunge ahead. There are already some plans for another recording. Meanwhile, the search continues.
"Please keep us in your prayers as God is moving in this ministry," Visser posted last month to the group's Facebook followers. "There are many decisions to be made with the direction God is leading us."
For more info: www.faithfuljourneyquartet.com
Watch the Faithful Journey Quartet sing "Where Could I Go (But to the Lord)?