DUBLIN, Ga. — Just how many tunes Helen Hobbs has played over nearly 75 years is anyone’s guess.
The soon-to-be 90-year-old has been providing musical accompaniment for the singing at Marie Baptist Church since she was a teenager, showing her congregation and her community a picture of true faithfulness.
“This is her ministry, and she’s committed to it,” said Pastor Bobby Hutto. “She has never taken a penny for it.”
Hutto said churches can struggle with a lack of commitment among their members, and to have an example like Miss Helen, as he calls her, is truly a blessing in that people get to see her live out her faith on a daily basis.
“Even with all of these years of playing, she still comes up every week to practice for Sunday,” Hutto said. “She wants to be ready. Even with all the experience she has, she doesn’t take it for granted.”
Miss Helen’s mother enrolled her in piano lessons when she was 14 years old. Within two years, she was playing at Marie Baptist where she has been a member since her baptism at age 10.
At the urging of an aunt who recognized Miss Helen’s musical giftedness, she began playing in church. Miss Helen said she didn’t have any experience at the time, but she did have one thing the Lord could use:
“I was willing,” she said.
After beginning her church music ministry in 1949 on the piano, the church purchased an organ in 1951. Miss Helen began playing it and hasn’t stopped since.
Miss Helen vividly remembers surrendering her life to Christ 80 years ago.
“It was during a revival that I was saved,” she said. “I just felt the Lord’s hand on me, leading me to go down the aisle and make a commitment. It was so real.”
Later, she married her husband of 59 years, Bobby Hobbs, who died in 2011. While he farmed, she worked as a bookkeeper at JC Penney for 47 years.
“Miss Helen has been with this church through thick and thin,” Hutto said. “She has always been here. I would say Miss Helen is the matriarch of the whole church.”
Nowadays, she plays the organ alongside other instruments, including the acoustic guitar, base guitar, drums, and keyboard, in worship services that include a blend of hymns and contemporary songs.
Miss Helen’s favorite song after all these years remains Amazing Grace.
“The words mean so much to,” she said, quoting the lyrics. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
Miss Helen said when the last verse of that song begins, “I hit the pedal.”
“When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less day to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”
Hutto said Miss Helen’s faithfulness has been a great blessing to the church, which will celebrate her 90th birthday Saturday afternoon.
“When you have people you can absolutely depend on, like Miss Helen, you can get things done,” Hutto said.