Friday, December 11, 2015

Why I like choirs...some thoughts for Christmas

I grew up in a church where there were hymnals and the choir and congregation sang four part harmony. In my teen years a parishioner worked with four of us teens to develop a quartet. I sang bass and it was this experience that developed my ear for harmony and the enjoyment of singing with others to create something beautiful.

I’ve had the opportunity to sing in a few choirs over the years. Of course there was the work and discipline of practicing…having the pianist pound out our parts for us. But when it came to performance time you reaped a reward in ways that are hard to describe unless you too have participated in a group performance. The performance itself brings pleasure and joy and as C. S. Lewis says, "are not tacked on to the activity … but are the activity itself in consummation."  You are sad when it is over. If only you could return to that state of joy, each of us contributing to the activity.

In Timothy Keller’s book, Prayer, there is a section on how prayer is meant not to be just a private event but a communal event. It goes like this:
      “C. S. Lewis argues that it takes a community of people to get to know an individual person. Reflecting on his own friendships, he observed that some aspects of one of his friend’s personality were brought out only through interaction with a second friend. That meant if he lost the second friend, he lost the part of his first friend that was otherwise invisible. ‘By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.’ 1 If it takes a community to know an ordinary human being, how much more necessary would it be to get to know Jesus alongside others? By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.
     That is why, Lewis thinks, that the angels in Isaiah 6 are crying, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ to one another. Each angel is communicating to all the rest the part of the glory it sees. Knowing the Lord is communal and cumulative, we must pray and praise together. That way ‘the more we share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.’ 23

And that is why I like choirs…even better to participate in a choir. The beauty of it is that it scales up so beautifully…the larger the better. I’ve been in gyms and stadiums where everyone was singing and there is nothing like it…think what heaven will be like.

During this Christmas season, when the world seems dark, put on a good set of earphones so you can hear all the parts, and take time to rejoice and sing this song with me and The Vocal Majority Chorus. May this be our prayer. He is our hope.


1 C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt, 1960), 61
2 Ibid., 62
3 Timothy Keller, Prayer (New York: Dutton, 2014), 119

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        Carol's Memorial,
        and Kelly's Blog