As a teenager, I sang in the Melrose Park Presbyterian Church Choir in Toronto. In my 50’s, I sang in the Port Stanley Community Choir. Throughout the years, we made beautiful music in the blending of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses. I was a bass … and I still am. I love singing.
Now I’ve moved to Belmont, Ontario, and there’s a new group on the block – the Belmont Community Singers. I went to hear them this afternoon at the United Church. Part of me still wants to sing exquisite songs with others, but I lean towards doing that in a folk music group rather than in a formal choir. Still … there I was in the front row, only a few feet from a violinist. Twenty-five singers and an small orchestra. Lovely.
I was the only one in the front row. Otherwise the church was pretty packed. Perhaps I’m odd. As I sat there, I journeyed back to other Christmas concerts, at the Port Stanley United Church. How I loved singing O Come All Ye Faithful with the audience, listening to Gord Stacey give us O Holy Night in his deep bass voice, and finish the concert each year with the delightful A Special Night. As the last note hung in the air, I always wondered if that would be the last time I’d sing this precious song. One year … it was.
The Belmont Singers walked to the church sanctuary from the back, and soon Break Into Song did exactly that. Most of the faces were shining. I only knew one singer but it felt like I knew them all.
A woman strode forward for her solo. It was Gord’s song – O Holy Night. She was nervous. Within the first few notes, her voice cracked. She apologized. She coughed. Amid the beautiful melodic moments, there was more cracking. I moved my spirit inside her and wished her well. I stayed inside her the whole time, loving her, willing that her best would emerge. Near the end of the piece, there’s a very high note. She nailed it! Waydago, my unknown friend.
“Brian” was the choir director. He kept drawing out the beauty of the music from twenty-five mouths. They were so very much with him. And so were we. For one thing, he was a major comedian. At one point, he was requesting that we leave our e-mail addresses after the concert so the Singers could let us know about future musical events. “Okay, that’s enough selling! Back to the songs.” Perfect.
We the audience got to sing with the choir. What a blessing. Armed with our lyrics sheet, we blasted out It Came Upon A Midnight Clear and then (!) O Come All Ye Faithful. Just like the good old days.
As we let the last notes of We Wish You A Merry Christmas fade away, we were a community. Singers and players stood in response to the standing audience. Smiles were flying across the room. Merry Christmas, dear friends.
Will I allow the good old days to return?
Will that be me on the stage a year or two from now?