17th-Century Politics and the Beauty of Mendelssohn

Henry Busby

by Henry Busby

Three consecutive years constitute a long time, and the way in which one chooses to spend them will no doubt affect the remainder of that individual’s existence. I spent the last three years earning a baccalaureate degree at the University of Memphis, honing my skills as an amateur historian and singing in the Parish Choir at CHC, and I can safely declare that such a lifestyle has been – in my case, at least – wholly beneficial. I have certainly missed out on what may be termed the "traditional"  college experience, but I have no regrets as to that; I have gladly swapped college parties for the camaraderie of church choir, happily forsaken the expenses of dormitory living for a cheap daily commute on the bus, and built up what I sincerely hope are research skills worthy of graduate study. Allow me to explicate my thoughts on some factors (church-related and otherwise) that have shaped my most recent three years.

Although my involvement at Holy Communion has been limited to the Parish Choir, I have relished the biweekly commitment (rehearsal on Wednesdays and service on Sundays) and have found it a fine distraction from the exciting-yet-occasionally-overwhelming realm of university life. Little banishes worries concerning a 10-page essay on the political troubles of 17th-century Europe from the mind quite like a collective effort to tackle a beautiful Mendelssohn piece.

Apart from the musical aspect, choir has offered a chance for me to socialize with numerous affable and welcoming people of various ages and backgrounds. The choristers are not merely good people; they are (just as importantly) intellectual people, individuals who clearly appreciate scholasticism and learning. Devoting a Sunday morning to relentless vocal worship is an excellent source of cathartic release, and doing so has nearly always left me with a feeling of spiritual satisfaction, as though the gap between the divine and humanity has been narrowed ever so slightly. Such shiver-inducing sentiments have (for me, at least) tended to culminate on Christmas Eve, particularly with the climactic dimming of the lights and the indescribably pure rendering of "Silent Night." Cheesy, I know, but very true.

My time as an undergraduate student has been comparatively brief but highly colorful. I entered the University of Memphis in August 2011, graduating in May 2014 with a B.A. in history. For most of this time I lived at home with my parents, taking the MATA public bus to and from the university campus for a mere $50 per month. Like many students, I began college unsure of my desired specialization. In my second semester, however, inspiration shone forth in the form of two outstanding history instructors. Both were erudite and ambitious women striving to illuminate the applicability of history in the modern day, and I was one of a few students they "converted."

From then onward I have been driven by the goal of someday making my living as a professional historian, although sustaining this goal requires a fair of amount of illogical optimism as job openings in such a field are getting progressively scarcer. With that being said, I have been accepted to graduate school at the University of Wyoming, where I will embark on a rigorous study of the Wild West and hopefully develop an academic identity.

Posted by Cara Modisett at 12:15 AM
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