". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Harvest Time

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.

3 comments:

elephantschild said...

YAY! See me doing the happy dance! My Dh, at age 41, is the youngest in his choir. All the teens are "so busy" you know. It's pathetic.

We'll most likely be taking Dd (age 5) along with us this fall for choir, mostly because we can't afford a sitter, but also to teach her to sing. What passes for Sunday School "singing" here will do her more harm than good!

Hey, if your hubby ever wants to take his show on the road, you'd all be welcome here!

Laura said...

Cheryl,

I enjoyed your post as I was thinking about not being in choir this year with a toddler running around. I love music and the liturgy the way you do...but sometimes life just gets so busy that something has to give. But then you spoke about the rehearsal...and you are right, it is a time to get away from this world a little and have a small taste of heaven. I do have a very capable almost 13 year old that can take care of Ben...thanks for encouraging me in what I needed to hear. And...how cool for the two of you to see your young people involved. I know how it feels and you have a bunch to be very thankful for.

Cheryl said...

Laura, I am so glad to hear my post was inspiring to you! I know how difficult it can be to get up and out of the house on choir night, especially with a little one around, but I always find that once I'm there it is worth it. (Of course, since I am a paid accompanist, I have an extra motivation!) I hope things work out with the babysitting and the schedule that you are able to attend. I'm sure you will be glad you did.