Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Angels We Have Heard

I sat happily among the choir seats in the chapel on Sunday morning. Our family had completed its annual Christmas Day tradition of breakfast cereal and gift opening. (Each child gets a personal box of whichever cereal they most desire.) Gifts had been enjoyed and all had had plenty of opportunity to indulge in a broad variety of holiday treats.

We had managed to get everyone through the shower and properly dressed and groomed in plenty of time for church. Those of our children that were not in the choir were seated with their two grandmothers on the second row of the chapel. So all was good.

The choir director handed out a flyer outlining the Christmas program for our worship service. I was, of course, quite familiar with the five numbers the choir would be singing. But I also saw on the program two numbers of which I had been previously unaware. A talented soloist was singing a number and the Primary children would be singing Angels We Have Heard On High.

I wondered how the children's number would work out, logistically speaking. We have enough children in our congregation that they would fill the choir seats. It would make for an odd spectacle to have the choir members move out temporarily while the children sang.

But the director said nothing about the matter, so I assumed she knew what she was doing. She did. And so did the children. When the moment arrived, the children throughout the congregation stood in place as the director led them in singing this familiar Christmas hymn.

Ordinarily the children in our congregation sing this hymn with tremendous gusto, but this performance was rather weak. From my vantage point in the choir seats I saw many of the children that would normally be singing powerfully singing rather timidly. Some seemed to be so horridly embarrassed to be standing at all that they stood uncomfortably without singing.

One of the reasons you can get more volume from a group of singers standing near each other is that each derives confidence from his fellows as they identify together as a group and can more easily hear each other sing. Unless one is a particularly confident singer, standing apart will make him feel like an individual rather than part of a group.

Despite the overall lackluster rendition of the hymn, there were a few clear and sweet tones coming from some of the children throughout the chapel. The great reward for me was that my youngest son and my daughter were among these. They sang strongly, purely, and earnestly from the second row of the chapel, seemingly undaunted by the timidness of their companions

It was a powerful and sweet experience for me that will become a cherished Christmas memory for years to come.

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