I’m part of a gospel choir at my university. It was kind of an ‘on-a-whim’ decision to join, and for the first few rehearsals I felt a bit lost. The choir learns songs completely by ear; making up harmonies as they go. Our choir director leads of course, and she verifies all of our lines, separating us into the conventional Tenor Alto Soprano sections. I’d never done anything like it before, and it worried me a bit that we were picking any old key and rolling with it.
I got to know all of the first year members especially, because I think they felt about as sure as I did.
On Thursday, we did our first performance. We all turned up wearing whatever black clothes we could root out from our limited ‘Away-from-Home’ wardrobes, and ran through our set with the equally improvised band. And – maybe for the first time – we sounded good. We sounded like a team, like we had one purpose and that maybe this gospel and this God we were singing about really meant something and was worth all our effort. It’s a powerful feeling to get up on stage, squint out into the lights and sing like you mean it – because you mean it – but even more so when you get up and do it with your friends.
Our performance was part of a longer service; a missionary working with a charity called OMF in Japan was visiting. His particular way of reaching out to people was through dance – more specifically, break dancing. At the end of his talk, he had the entire congregation on their feet and trying – with varying to degrees of success – to ‘break it down’.
I found myself next to an enthusiastic elderly man, who I could hear rasping throughout. “One two three, up, punch, jump and – oh sorry!” Don’t worry – he only hit me once.
I normally wouldn’t go in for these public dancing shenanigans, but I was with my choir and we were still buzzing from our songs, and everything was okay. Nothing was too scary or too silly because we were a team and we’d just shared one of the best experiences I can think of together.
I guess what I’m trying to say is simply this: I love my choir.