“I’ve always been a history buff even as a child,” said 71-year-old Nawrocki.
“I have a passion for the older songs. I am led to more and more older songs,” said Nawrocki, a Marietta resident since 1979. He moved from Atlanta where he lived since 1965.
Ten years ago, the Marietta resident started collecting hymnals that he purchased from antique stores and at estate sales. He has collected about 100 hymnals, with the oldest dating back to the 1890s.
“I was exposed to the old-time hymns at an early age because we were always in church,” said Nawrocki, whose mother was a staunch Methodist.
It is not enough for Nawrocki, who started playing the piano at age 7, to simply collect hymnals. He keeps the old-time music alive by playing hymns at various events such as Sunday School at First United Methodist Church of Marietta where he is a member, nursing homes, and area church sing-a-longs.
“(The hymnals) have so many songs we seem to be forgetting now. We seem to be losing our Christian music heritage because so many of our songs aren’t being sung anymore,” said the retired owner of an assisted living home.
Nawrocki said there is spiritual revival in the old-time singing especially in rural areas of west Georgia where he plays in a number of churches. “People seem to have a hunger for the old-time singing, especially in that area (of Georgia).”
Like many, Nawrocki finds comfort through the hymns. “I find (the hymns) a communication with God. It brings me closer with God. People were given the ability to compose and write these songs. Most of the old songs are anointed and touched by God. When they’re played and sung back to God it gives you a wonderful spiritual peace and joy. I think that’s why people enjoy singing them so much,” he said.
“I love to share these songs. I feel a spiritual lift when I play and hear people sings these songs. I am trying to preserve the past,” Nawrocki said.