Tag Archives: choirs

Educating Masses

23 Jan

This afternoon marked my favorite yearly children’s choir rehearsal.

Not because the Schola Cantorum just returned from their annual trip to Concordia Theological Seminary where they blew the roof off Kramer chapel with a splendid Trinitarian descant, a reformation era hymn setting, and rock-solid chanting.

Not because they were still bubbling with excitement and couldn’t wait to both tell their younger vocal counterparts of the joys that await them on future trips to Fort Wayne, and demonstrate the music they accomplished in just two rehearsals.

I heart childrens choirs

Not because they moaned in disappointment when they found out it was time to hand in their music and that they couldn’t take it home as a souvenir.

Not because they were shocked to find out that not everyone has been singing Luther’s creedal hymn “We All Believe in One True God” by heart since birth.

Not because they got to see the OSLC funeral pall for the first time and immediately made the connection between it and the robe of righteousness we receive in our Baptism.

Not because they immediately glommed on to “Preach You the Word” and connected the text to their sneak peak of the amazing Sower Triptych by Edward Riojas to be dedicated at the seminary tomorrow.

And not because when I told them they were a Liturgical Choir they innocently asked, “What other kind of choir could there be?

Don’t get me wrong, all these things were great.  But the real reason this time of year is my favorite is because I sent these young choristers home knowing that sooner or later they’ll have a conversation with their parents that will, I imagine, go something like this:

Parent:  (Sweating profusely) Beloved Jr. High offspring of mine, do you have any questions about sex?
Schola Cantorum Member:  No, Dad/Mom.
Parent: (somewhat relieved, but bewildered)  Really?  No questions at all?
Schola Cantorum Member:  Nope, Mrs. Roberts explained it all.
Parent:  (with understandable anxiety) Mrs. Roberts?  Your choir director?  What exactly did she tell you?
Schola Cantorum Member:  That it’s roughly 60 days before Easter.

Yes, today was the rehearsal where I handed out propers for Sexagesima.

Pre-lent.  It will humble you every time.

Bongo!

10 Jan

Disclaimer:  This post contains wildly opinionated, yet completely untheological arguments.  All theological arguments for and against said percussion will be ignored both now, and in the future on this blog.

My children’s choir will be singing next Monday for the Divine Service at Concordia Theological Seminary.

For those of you keeping score at home, my children’s choir is not the same as the cacophony of voices that is frequently, and loudly heard in song around our house.  No, my children’s choir even has a fancy Latin name.  It’s Schola Cantorum.  Doesn’t that name just ring of sweet, angelic voices singing the most beautiful and poignant Truth?  Well, that’s because they are just that.

These kids are the best.  And by “these kids” I mean every child past, present, and future that I’ve had, have, or will have the pleasure of directing.  I don’t think I’m overstating this fact when I say:

It doesn’t get much better than working with a group of pure, treble voices who are eager to tackle a musical challenge,  do more than feign interest at my bits of historical trivia, and best of all, hungrily digest every bit of God’s Word from the texts they perform.

Whew.  Did I mention how they’re the very best?

I do also love my biological children.  Even when they are “singing.”

Anyway, back to these inspiring Schola Cantorumsters.  The fine folks at the Seminary have asked us to sing a hymn that is unfamiliar to them.  It’s by the Liberian hymnwriter, Billema Kwillia.  The Pastor preaching on Monday is also from Africa, and one of the esteemed musicians at CTS suggestedthat it might be fitting to accompnay the hymn with some percussion.

It seemed like a harmless, and even helpful idea to prepare the children for what they might encounter, so I pulled out our little bongo drums.

Now, directing a children’s choir does not come without considerable risk of personal humiliation.  Over the years I’ve had to define the words ass and virgin, convince young innocents that it’s okay to sing the “O my God” in church,  and stoically ignore giggles while handing out the music for Sexagesima Sunday.  (Don’t make me explain it to you, just go look it up.)

By now you would think that I’ve learned that these embarrassing moments come when you least expect them.  But no.   I continue on in blissful ignorance, scheduling children to sing Psalms about breasts and changing the beginning consonant in our “me-meh-mah-mo-moo” warm-up to a “p.”

But once again, I didn’t see it coming.

Out came the bongo drums.  I impressed the students with a demonstration showing that because bongo drums are open-bottomed they must not be played while sitting on a surface.  First, I gave them a little thunk-thunk-thunk  on the piano top, and then wowed the crowds with the open, hollow ring of correct bongo technique.

In case you’ve never seen bongos played by an actual bongoist, let me explain proper bongoing.  The double drum must be held between your legs, above your knees.  It’s an instrument that makes the cello look modest.

There were a few giggles and whispers.  I didn’t think too much about it, because despite what I said about children’s choirs being the best and all that, they’re still, at the core, children.  They pulled it together and we bongoed our way through the African hymn.

Later, in the privacy of my own office, I bent down to grab a pencil and noticed a bright spot on my lap that I figured must be sweater fuzz. But wait.  It wasn’t on my slacks, it wasn’t even part of the slacks.  No, my brand-new-$4.49-Old-Navy-clearance-size-smaller-than-I-had-previously-worn slacks had a hole in the . . . well, you know where it was.

And that bright spot?  My underwear.  Wait!  Why did I just tell you earlier that I thought it was sweater fuzz?  You didn’t see me today, right?  You don’t know what color I was wearing, do you?? You can’t picture the color of my underwear, can you?  ACK!!  Why are we talking about my underwear!?!?!  What do you mean I’m the one talking and you’re not saying anything?!?  This is awful.

ANYWAY.

This, my friends, is why bongo drums do not belong in church.

What? You really thought I would post a picture of myself here? Hey! Stop looking at that poor guy's jeans.

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