I came across this article in the LA Times about the Soweto (South Africa) Gospel Choir and I was struck by the closing of the article and how it related to our discussion (okay, my rant) about the beauty of volunteer choirs. Of course in our society commitment and uniformity are not two ideals valued very highly so it is no surprise that the reviewer ends the article with a question about this phenomenon. Perhaps it is just me but I continue to believe the whole of a choir is greater than the sum of it's parts.
Near the end, a quartet of singers joined an electric guitarist for a
deeply sensual rendition of “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, and the music
lent credence to an introductory speech in which one choir member had
said the show’s objective was to “reflect the meaning of the word
‘grace’ — not just religion, but beauty, love and the strength of the
The human spirit, yes — this you couldn’t miss. If Wednesday’s
concert failed to deliver anything, though, it was a strong sense of any
single human; even the group’s most expressive vocalists (such as the
woman who sang Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross”) seemed hemmed in by
a responsibility to maintain the whole.
To some degree, of course, that’s the essence of choral music — and
there was no doubting the powerful uniformity of Soweto Gospel Choir’s
well-rehearsed sound. But for all its emotion and stimulation, the
group’s performance seemed to pose a question it couldn’t quite answer:
Must representing one’s culture preclude the representation of oneself?
On Easter Sunday immediately following the services Andrea and I had a quick lunch and then packed up the car and the dogs a for a get away to Lake Arrowhead where some friends of the family have a cabin. As we drove off I was still buzzing from the wonderful services that day made more powerful by the events of Holy Week. I couldn't help myself and was playing some of the music I was hoping to use at the Crossing on the car stereo despite Andrea's gentle reminder that I was on vacation. When I finally turned the tunes over to some secular music I was still overcome by God's grace, beauty and our chance for rebirth as Easter people. I literally had tears of joy and gratefulness in my eyes as we drove up the mountain.
This coming Sunday is often referred to as "Low Sunday" and although the name has liturgical roots that relate it to the celebration of Easter it also has cultural relevance because it is often the lowest attended Sunday of the Christian year. I can't help but think that so many in our world are living life like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, with heavy hearts full of worry, death and sorrow because they have not experienced the power of the resurrection and the tomb empty of a body and yet full of promises.
Most sane people's first response when asked to try to share their faith is one of doubt, something like "I am no saint, who am I to share". There is not one of us who is perfect but neither were the disciples and yet they were called to bare witness to the hope of a risen Savior and Redeemer. On this "Low Sunday" Pastor Brian is calling us to be witnesses and I am so confident that the gospels are full of Good News, I hope you will help me share this message!
Sunday's Anthem "Witness" arranged by Jack Halloran
Recommended reading: "With Burning Hearts" by Henry Nouwen
I was hoping to add recordings of our other two choral pieces since I couldn't find them on YouTube but apparently I didn't record a full run through of "Alleluia! Christ is Risen" so we will have do without it. I was able to upload our very rough recording of "The Lord is Risen this Morning" from Thursday night and upload it to Soundcloud. If everything worked it should be embedded below.
If anyone is able to locate a version of "Alleluia! Christ is Risen" by Lloyd Larson please let me know.