When the sounds of the 45-member White Station High School begin wafting through the Nave during the Saturday night Easter vigil, settle back in your seat and give thanks for the regard Episcopalians have always had for education.
For third year, the award-winning choir will be in the choir loft here, lending its collective voice to one of the church’s most hallowed services.
“It’s a nice thing to look out and see the people who are turning around in their seats to listen,” said Joseph Powell, director of choirs at the school. “It’s easy to see they are really enjoying the performance.”
White Station’s choir does perform in a few other churches, although not as part of the service. At Holy Communion, the feel is a little different, Powell said because the choir has as relationship here.
“We have our choir camp every summer at Holy Communion,” Powell said. “And in addition to that, we usually end up having a couple of smaller concert events in the parish hall. It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ to Holy Communion.
“We like to maintain a presence with our students. And it’s very convenient. The kids don’t have to get a ride; they can walk.”
The choir members, who all must audition, practice for several months the pieces they will sing for the vigil.
“Interestingly enough, we usually find some way to work in a piece that we’ve been working on separate from the Easter Vigil. David (Ouzts) is good about a spot in the liturgy where it is appropriate to add it in.”
The collaboration is part of a growing bond between the public school down Perkins and Holy Communion. Julie Fike, director of recreation and wellness, is pitching in this winter and spring with the track teams.
“Because we share the campus with St. Mary’s Episcopal School, which has been here since the 1950s, I think it’s important for us as an Episcopal church to support school education,” said Dr. David Ouzts, minister of music and liturgy.
“With White Station being literally just down the street and being one of the best high school choirs in the state, I think we need to celebrate that in whatever ways we can. And I think it’s a good thing that a public school group like the White Station choir feels at home in our building.”
Because most members of the choir are not Episcopalian, the music is their introduction to the vigil and its symbolism.
“I explain the liturgy to them, from the movement from darkness to light, from death to life and the rekindling the new fire as a symbol of the resurrection,” Ouzts said.
Powell, who attended Episcopalian school from kindergarten to senior high in Mobile, Ala., explains the background in class.
“Usually, I try to give some historical background on what we are singing, but there would be no reason to tell them about the Easter Vigil if we were not singing it.”