One of the truly magical experiences of the holidays is singing in chorus with other people. Tonight I had the great pleasure of attending a reflective evening of music in a 150-year-old church in Brudenell. The church was candlelit, with Christmas trees on the altar. The pews were full of our community members; all had gathered to listen collectively to a choral presentation. We were asked not to clap between numbers in order to perpetuate the sense of quiet reflection that was the goal of the evening.
Have you ever noticed that when you eat guacamole, it is a whole experience? The individual ingredients fuse together seamlessly, so that you can hardly distinguish lemon from avocado from garlic from cilantro from salt. A blended choir is like this: the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass meld together into pure sound, and it is hard to focus on a single note sung by any one part; it is the perfect whole that you are perceive.
As I listened, I glanced around at the many familiar faces around me: my Grade 8 Home Economics teacher, one of my dad's teaching colleagues, my midwife, a former dramatic director; I noted body language, who sat close to whom, the spaces surrounding us, and between us, separating and also connecting us to one another in community.
As beautiful as the evening's music was, the highlight came at the end when the congregation was invited to join in singing classics such as "What Child is This?", "Silent Night", and "Joy to the World". The beauty of live music is in its fleetingness. It cannot be captured. Each note must be sung, enjoyed, then forgotten as all voices move to the next. Spontaneous harmonies emerge; the surprise of hearing sonorous, rich sound emerging from the chest of the person closest to you; the shyness of people who don't normally sing but feel safe in a choral situation; the closed eyes and rapturous expressions of people who may not consider themselves Christians, but still feel the resonance of these old songs.
Singing together in community is a pure and simple pleasure; there is something primal about it that conjures images of bonfires, stone circles, player pianos, parlours, churches and congregations. Seek out opportunities to sing in community, and teach your children songs so that they, too, can sing in communion with others. It doesn't matter if your voice is reedy, or the notes off-key. Take a deep breath!
...and if you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to be free? Be free! ~Cat Stevens