David Oke
Belmont, Geelong; November 1998

The International Harvester Choir had been a part of our family lives forever. Dad was a founding member and joined up when a notice was put up in the tool-room of the International Harvester Company in Geelong in 1943, seeking men with an interest in singing.

Since then he had sung in hundreds of concerts, churches, country and city halls right across Victoria as well as on a number of recordings. I was sitting next to my older brother in the Belmont hall as the male chorus were proudly singing in their 1000th performance in 1998. I hadn’t heard the choir for a while but there were many familiar songs in the program that day.

A particular song I had remembered from my childhood was the African American spiritual Steal Away To Jesus. There was always something about the dynamic of that song – the way the choir went from an almost whisper to a contrasting louder volume later in that song when singing about the ‘thunder’, ‘lightning’ and the ‘trumpet’.

As the choir launched into Steal Away To Jesus I felt the waves of emotion washing over me and I was crying. Luckily I had armed myself with a number of tissues knowing that this was going to happen.

Steal away.
Steal aw