Singing is one of the greatest joys of my life.
I can appreciate almost any kind of music that is done well and by “done well” I mean written well and performed with skill and respect for what the music is meant to be.
Lady Gaga? Bring her on. I have her music on my iPhone. Dolly Parton? Yep. Clay Aiken? You bet. Bill Gaither? Are you kidding me? I have ALL of his. Andrea Bocelli. Solo Instrumental. Orchestral. Opera. I even listen to a little heavy metal on occasion. Jazz isn’t my favorite but I like some of it. About the only thing I can barely tolerate is rap–of course that’s not actually music now is it? It’s mostly bad poetry laced with profanity or maybe I should say profanity laced with bad poetry!
In spite of my love for all of the above, my true love is singing in a choir. The experiences I’ve had in a choir are too many to write about. The emotions, the sense of belonging, the friendships that develop when you spend time with like-minded people and come to enjoy and respect their skills, all play a part in the overarching headiness of the experience.
The first time I sight read “I’ve Just Seen Jesus” was in choir practice at First Baptist Atlanta. It was a handwritten copy and all those funky intervals and accidentals for the women on the first page were difficult for them to sing, but oh the wonder of the story of seeing Jesus for the first time after the resurrection! You were grieving for he was dead, then suddenly he is standing before you. Alive! Can your mind wrap around the profoundness of that moment? When we got to the line “all that I had done before, won’t matter anymore”, well, I began to weep. Tears poured down my cheeks. The last time I sang that song was 20 years later in a service at Peachtree Corners Baptist Church and I wept again. The power of music to overwhelm your emotions is simply profound.
For the past few years I’ve sung with the Sons of Jubal and have had the joy of getting to know several ministers of music from around the state of Georgia. We get to worship together and make music in such a beautiful and profound way to reach the hearts of people in the audience. I’ve made new friends there. One in particular has become a close friend that I love to spend time with outside of rehearsal, walking together through the difficulties and strains and triumphs of life.
My wife and I have also sung in the Johns Creek Chorale since its inception in 2015. Singing in a community chorus that performs serious choral music at a high level has been a new experience for me and has pushed my skills to new levels. I love doing it, although, as a good Baptist, I have to work on my Latin; and you can forget German, Italian, Swahili, and Norwegian! (Yes, we’ve performed in all of those languages!) There are many times that I’m simply exhausted from a day’s work and force myself to go to rehearsal anyway. Without exception, I come away energized and excited about what we are doing.
The Johns Creek Chorale recently performed a piece simply called “Joy” by Hans Bridget Heruth. It based on a poem by Sara Teasdale.
I am wild, I will sing to the trees,
I will sing to the stars in the sky,
I love, I am loved, he is mine,
Now at last I can die!
I am sandaled with wind and with flame,
I have heart-fire and singing to give,
I can tread on the grass or the stars,
Now at last I can live!
It is not possible for a blog article to convey the unquenchable joy that radiates from this song! When we rehearse or perform it, my heart sings! I cannot sing it without smiling. I want to laugh! It is delightful and freeing and celebratory and good and right. I am loved! What an overwhelming thought–I am loved! How can I not sing?
I am sandaled with wind and with flame, I have heart-fire and singing to give. Why? Because I am loved!
I wish the world could experience such Joy.