Several nights ago our church choir (of which my husband is the director and I am the accompanist) had its first rehearsal of the season. How good it was to once again be among these friends and fellow musicians, to see their smiling faces and hear the sweet sound of their voices singing our Lord's Gospel comfort. There is something remarkable about choir practice in its ability to make the world (at least my little corner of it) come to a screeching halt, if only for a little while. Somehow, for that hour-and-a-half rehearsal, everything else fades away and there is only the piano, the conductor, the choir, and the music on the page.
But last night was even more special than usual. Of the 32 singers in attendance, 7 of them (almost 25%) were high school students. In an age during which teenagers have a myriad of activities in which to participate (some worthy, some not), it was heartwarming to see these young men and women choose to spend their evening singing at church. How cool is that?
And yet it didn't happen overnight or by accident but as the result of seeds sown over time. My husband has been the cantor (director of music & worship) at our congregation for almost 8 years now. During that time (and throughout his career as a church musician), one of his dearest passions has been teaching children to sing, and particularly, teaching them to sing the hymns and liturgy of the Church. All of the young people who attended Thursday night's choir practice have grown up singing in my husband's children's choirs. They have parents who regularly bring them to worship and who actively participate in the life of the congregation. Now that they are confirmed, they are voting members of the congregation and are encouraged to participate as such. So rather than singing in a separate choir for high school youth, they are invited to continue their pattern of musical service to the church by becoming members of our adult choir.
As I watched my husband directing this first rehearsal of the year, gazing out at the faces of the young intermingled with the not-so-young, I knew that he was finding special joy in the presence of children who have been singing for him since they were 7 or 8 years old. I hope all those young people come back next week. I think they will. One of the most wonderful things about choir is that in the diversity of the participants it is a microcosm of the church and of the world. While the typical high school student today spends the majority of his time surrounded by people of his own age, that is not an accurate picture of real life. Choir on the other hand is a multi-generational activity. Several of the young people who attended, in fact, came with their parents, also members of the choir. The resulting scene, with old teaching young and young inspiring old, and the voices of all blending as they sang together the Lord's song, was a picture of heaven, where there will not be separate choirs (or worship services) for young and old but where all will sing together at the throne of the Lamb.
I'm looking forward to another little taste of heaven next week.