Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)
TITLE: In The Quire
By Judy Bowers
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Belonging to a very large church has some disadvantages because it is so difficult to get to know everyone. Belonging to a very large church has some advantages because there is such a large choice of small groups through which one can get to know many people.
Small group choices can include contemplative prayer groups, various Bible study groups, a long-range planning group, a stewardship group, a gifts and talents study group, in-home foyer groups, renewal groups, and the list goes on and on. One can come and go from most of these groups as The Spirit leads. All of these groups are wonderful homes for any seeker and I have, at some time, enjoyed every one of them, but there is one group to which I have belonged for over twenty-five years.
The group to which I have made such a commitment in time and effort is the choir. To paraphrase Psalm 150 (RSV): Praise the Lord! ....with trumpet sound, with lute and harp, with timbrel and dance, with strings and pipe, with loud clashing cymbals – let everything that breathes Praise the Lord!
At Easter, from the choir loft, we joyously sing from Handel’s Messiah. “Halleluiah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, Halleluiah.” The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
For Christ’s Mass, late in the evening and before Christmas day, we lower the sanctuary lights and quietly and softly sing as we slowly process down the aisle, “ Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright, ‘round yon virgin, Mother and child, holy infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.”
And, unbeknownst to some folks at those two services, we actually sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3.16 RSV) every Sunday all in between those two memorable occasions.
Then there are those special Sunday afternoon concerts, with orchestra, for the community. We sing the Requiems of Faure, Rutter, and Durufle. We sing Mozart’s Coronation Anthems, Coronation Mass, and Solemn Vespers. From masterful works of music we joyously sing Gloria in ‘egg-shell-sees’ (excelsis) Deo and we reverently sing In paradisum deducant angeli, ‘may the angels lead you into paradise’. It’s about love (ubi caritas et amor); where love and charity are, there is God. We are singing love songs to God’s beloved people, from God’s beloved people.
Occasionally there is an extracurricular activity, such as going to Sewanee University to join voices with their choir for Mendelssohn’s gloriously uplifting, ‘There Shall a Star From Jacob Come Forth”. Or the time we auditioned via tape and then sang for God’s people at the National Cathedral. And we sometimes gather at each other’s homes for picnics and parties, for good camaraderie and laughter.
A minimum of two weekly rehearsals, and more than one worship service on Sundays for more than two decades, amounts to a commitment akin to marriage. Each week we pray together, for each other and for our ministry of music while believing that he who sings, prays twice. Each week we study together as we learn the music, knowing that a hymnal is full of theology. Each week we are aware of strengths and weaknesses among us as we help each other with the challenges. Each week our group leads in music those who have come to honor the Lord in worship and song. In sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer … until called to serve elsewhere, we love and care for one another.
In Revelation 4.8 (RSV) we read of John’s heavenly vision, [around the throne] … “day and night they never cease to sing, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God, Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
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