by Jesse Ratcliffe
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
How Can I Keep from Singing - Robert Lowry (1826-1899)
Since September, flexible has been the key word for the Heavenly Rest music ministry. Finding pieces that are accessible yet musically fulfilling has been a challenge, but it has been mixed with a touch of nostalgia. Perusing music to fit our current needs has pushed me to reacquaint myself with resources I have not utilized in many years. Until post-graduate school, most of my choirs and handbell ensembles were very small—one choir had only four members, and the hunt for suitable music was taxing. The results of nearly a decade’s worth of seasonal explorations has left me with a host of music that has met the needs of 2020-2021.
Until it is safe to fit the full choir in the chancel, the choral music heard each Sunday will be led by a quartet featuring a combination of either four choral scholars or two scholars and two parishioners. Events without a congregation, such as Evensong, will feature the full choir so that the singers can utilize the entire nave to adequately distance themselves. For rehearsal, the choir has been divided into two groups of 10 that meet on alternating weeks. During “off weeks” the opposite group will tune-in via Zoom.
The adult handbell choir has been split two groups of six and will ring music arranged for only twelve bells (two bells per ringer). Unlike the adult choristers, each group of ringers will focus on pieces for their group. Once a month the entire bell choir will gather in Gerhart Hall to ring and enjoy a brief time of socially-distant fellowship.
Putting aside all the uniqueness of rehearsals and musical settings, these two groups have had to persevere the lack of community during COVID. The camaraderie and support one may find in a vocal choir or handbell choir is unlike most other social organizations. It is heartening to know we are reconnecting those threads of community despite all the awkwardness of this era. I am extremely proud of their commitment, and look forward to what we can accomplish in the days ahead.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Love is lord of heav’n and earth,
how can I keep from singing?