The rector sang in the Parish Choir yesterday morning. A first for me.
Throughout the years, a number of associate rectors and deacons have sung in my various choirs. Two in recent memory love to sing so much that they look for personal opportunities outside church to sing regularly, which I think is quite healthy and wonderful.
I have also known a number of bishops who love to sing. During my cathedral days, our bishop would roll his eyes at me if (when) I tootled a fanfare on the “hosanna horn” during the hymn as he arrived at the Bishop’s Chair in the chancel, smiling and singing at the top of his lungs the entire time.
Bishops of a couple of friends of mine used to rock back and forth on their feet, singing away in the chancel, mitre gently nodding in the breeze and tempo of the music. One friend even had a parishioner for whom this was distracting: “I wish the bishop would stand still when he sings!”
One of our age 90-plus parishioners reminded me yesterday that this parish has had a number of priests who loved to sing. She remembers them booming away in song as they processed up and down the nave aisle.
Our rector received about 20 compliments about singing in the choir yesterday morning, to which he replied to each, “It was great fun. You should sing in our choir!”
Each person replied something like, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that,” which leads me to address the perpetual myths about singing in a nonauditioned church choir like our Parish Choir:
Oh, I’m not good enough to sing in the choir. (Yes, you are, or you could be.)
I don’t read music. (You don’t have to. Nonmusic-reading singers often have better ears and learn their individual parts than trained singers who are reading each note.)
I’m not a trained singer. (Neither are most of us. That’s why we have staff singers.)
You cannot sing in the choir and go to Sunday School. (Yes, you can. You just have to sneak out a little early for choir call time. And you may look for other Christian formation opportunities during the week.)
Joining the choir is too big of a commitment; you have to be there every Sunday and Wednesday. (Well, not really. We have a foolproof sign-out system. You can still be away when necessary for business, for trips to see your children and grandchildren, for time at your mountain or lake or beach house, etc.)
Our choir sounds great. They don’t need me. (Actually, we have needed 10-15 more choir members for about 15 years. Having more singers would help take the heat off of everyone.)
Ask any of our present Parish Choir members, who are so faithful and dedicated, and they will give lots of reasons why they sing in the choir.
Choir is definitely a great small group within our larger parish. The members love seeing each other bi-weekly for a reasons other than music. A few I have recently witnessed include exchanging recipes, sharing yarn colors, showing photos of trips or new grandbabies and making plans to attend performances or art shows.
Choir members will tell you that singing in our choir is a spiritual exercise, in spite of the director’s antics and bad jokes. Singers come to Wednesday evening rehearsal often tired from a long day at the office but leave inspired and invigorated by the hymn, anthem and Psalm texts we sing.
Choir members will also tell you that, once you’ve sung all that big Christmas and Easter music, those holy days have a different feel. And we get to sing with a brass ensemble or chamber orchestra, which is great fun.
They will also tell you that food and drink are often associated with what we do, whether is the annual Shrimp Dinner, midnight champagne and Belgian chocolates on Christmas Eve, Easter choir breakfast, occasional Muddy’s cupcakes, occasional frozen yogurt runs, or a big plate of lemon bars when Wednesday rehearsal falls on the choirmaster’s birthday.
See the spiritually rewarding and fun experiences you are missing?
The rector sang in the choir. And you should, too.