Some readers of “RON’S TIME TUNNEL” may remember “hearing” me speak of my Granddaddy’s friend, Mr. Jule Wynn, in my story entitled, “GRANDADDY WAS A GEEENIIUS.” If you haven’t read it, next time you hunker down in your favorite reading nook for a little light reading, check out that three part series here , here and here .
As I, once again, gaze through the mental window, which looks out onto the eclectic landscape of my memory, I can see Mr. Jule approaching slowly, walking stick rhythmically tapping the gravel paved passage that was South Street in the ‘60’s; “stick, street, street, stick”; a drum that heralded his coming; a valediction to his going.
As he passed 127, “The Ripper” and I played on the front lawn.
On those days that he did not stop to visit with granddaddy on his coming, where he went, I knew not for certain; perhaps to get a haircut and a shave at Uncle Son’s or Mr. Tommy Williams at the end of the street, or maybe he was just on his morning constitutional.
Later he would return, sometimes stopping to visit with Granddaddy, sometimes continuing his sojourn, straight-on until home.
Whatever his purpose for passing, he always greeted us with the same salutatory, hoarsely calling out to us the word, “MUSIC!” to which we exuberantly responded by shouting, in unison, “SINNUS JAYUZ!” then we laughed; “The Ripper” and me. Why had we laughed? At the time, I had no idea. Do children really ever need a reason to laugh?
At some point in time, Mr. Thomas Bailey, proprietor and operator of Perkins Funeral Home, also picked up on the routine, at my father’s urging I’m sure. Whenever he dropped by to visit, although I’ve come to suspect that he may have been scoping out future clients as well, he too would issue the call, “MUSIC!” prompting our response, “SINNUS JAYUZ!”
Later in life, I wondered about the meaning of those “words”. The meaning of the call part of our little “call-and-response” greeting, “MUSIC”, is obvious but the response, “SINNUS JAYUZ” required some research.
At first, I only discovered what the words, “SINNUS JAYUZ”, were not. They were not in the dictionary, neither were they of; Latin, French, Greek, nor any other foreign language derivation.
One day, however, while waiting in line at the Post Office, I heard one older gentleman say to another, that he had been having trouble with his “JAYUZ”. He stated further that once the doctor had cleaned his “JAYUZ”, he could hear perfectly again. I experienced a “EUREKA!” moment. “JAYUZ” was apparently how some older folks pronounced EARS. So when I Googled “SINNUS EARS”, I got “SINNER’S EARS”, which lead to my discovery of an old Hymn entitled, “Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” by hymn writer, Charles Wesley (1707-1788), in which one of the verses reads:
“Jesus! The name that charms our fears, that bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis MUSIC to the SINNER’S EARS, ‘tis life, and health and peace.”
So, that’s what we were saying. I’m sure my father, Mr. Jule and Thomas Bailey, knew the context of the greeting that we shared.
My theory is, that the “words” were probably the contrivance of some earnest and fervently praying, old Deacon, who’d done his dead-leveled best while “lining the hymn” for the rest of the congregation; without insight nor foreknowledge that his pronunciations would provide so much fun to me and “The Ripper” as youngsters and such a mystery to me, as an adult.
As a bonus, through the process of researching those “words”, I found a deeper, truer, more relevant meaning to the greeting shared between Dad, Mr. Jule, Mr. Bailey, “The Ripper”, and me, “The Roller”.
In this manner we grow in our faith and appreciation of the Lord and what he; has done, does, and will do for us!
‘TIS MUSIC TO THE SINNER’S EARS, TIS LIFE, AND HEALTH, AND PEACE!