Yesterday, my humble LDS* Ward* choir performed our Christmas program. It is an incredibly beautiful, touching cantata by Nathan Howe titled "Come and Behold Him". I sing soprano and my two teenage sons sing bass.
Let me mention here that they both started coming to choir under protest. My oldest (the golfer/wrestler) was convinced by a couple of his mentors (his fishing mentor, David Allen, and his Boy Scout mentor, Tarren Monsen) to come along. Also one of his best friends sings bass, so that helped. My second son (the self-proclaimed "geek") was called* to play piano for the choir, trading off with another pianist. He did not play the piano for the cantata, and had to be cajoled into singing, but he did end up participating, and they both were wonderful. Luckily, our sopranos stand immediately in front of the basses, so I got to hear them.
It was rather emotional for me. Right before we began, the *bishopric member who was conducting the meeting mentioned the horrific events of Friday morning to encourage the ward to pray for those affected by it. I was on the edge, emotionally, all weekend. I work at a school, as well has have four children in schools. Anyway, then the music began and the words touched my heart and I could barely sing some lines of the songs because I was trying so hard not to cry.
It really is a lovely program and I wish there was a decent audio recording of it, but the link above includes slow-paced midi files. It doesn't have singing-- and, frankly, it's kind of spooky and rather unfortunate, and truly doesn't do the piece justice. The page also has the PDFs, though, and if you can read music, peruse them and you will see how beautiful the music is. The lyrics are deeply spiritual and touching. I can't find words to express the depth of the love I felt from the Lord while performing this.
And even better, my 16 year old son told me tonight how he was touched by the music as well. He mentioned how powerful it felt to sing those words in front of our congregation and how he felt his voice become stronger with it. If you've never sang in a choir, you have no idea what a spiritual experience it is to join with a multitude (even a small multitude, like our choir) and sing praises or prayers to the Lord. It's amazing. And when the music is right, it's inspiring.
If you are a choral director, I know it's too late for this year, but I highly recommend this music for a future Christmas production. Especially the original pieces. The arrangements of known hymns was okay, but the original pieces were what really affected us.
I can't express the joy I feel at being able to share something I love as much as I do choral music (I've been singing in choirs for 25 years. LOVE IT!!) with my teenagers, who do not participate in singing anywhere else. No school choirs for my wrestler or my "geek". No siree... so I feel no small measure of love and joy and a warmed heart that they will sing with me. Their old lady. :)
*If you do not know: LDS is shorthand for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (AKA Mormons); Wards are how our church is organized locally; we believe people are "called" to serve in various capacities in the wards-- currently I serve as the children's music director, previously I've served as teacher, Cub Scout leader, and various other jobs; the bishopric is the trio of brethren who serve as the highest leaders of the ward, made up of a bishop and two counselors. Any questions? Ask away. I love my church and I would be happy to answer.