This Sunday’s service featured a video interview with two ladies who had recently gone to Sous-Raille, Haiti, with the Asbury Missions team. The premise of the video was to remind us the importance in giving to Asbury’s seasonal mission: Christmas is Not Your Birthday. During the interview I was struck by a meaningful moment our church members had in the Haitian service: the heartfelt and full engagement in musical worship by the Haitian community. The shared how everyone sang with exuberance and familiarity with all the words during the services, even the children. I must admit, that sounds like an amazing experience I would have loved to have heard!
When people find out I’m a choir director one of the most frequent responses I receive is, “You don’t want me to sing in the choir! I can’t sing!” Now, I could bore you with the science of how actually everyone can sing, but there are two big reasons we fear singing. Shows like American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent have turned everyone into vocal judges. How many times have you heard someone with no musical training react to someone’s voice and say, “oooh, they were pitch-y!” Do you even know what that means? Exactly. Secondly, we don’t sing as much any more because we don’t have to. The ease with which we consume music has never been easier. YouTube, Spotify, iPhones, Androids, Bluetooth speakers, earbuds. Not only can we listen to any music whenever we want, we frequently listen to it isolated from others when we use earbuds! Perhaps our friends in Haiti are surely such wonderful singers because they don’t have the technology we do to consume music- they create it!
So where am I going with all of this? What does this mean?
Well, as my dear friend Buddy once said, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”
This Christmas season I challenge you to engage in singing, particularly with those around you. That dialogue inside of you worrying what people around you are thinking of how you sound – dismiss it! That uncertainty you might feel as to whether or not you know a song well – forget it – after all it’s Christmas and you probably do know it! And if you know singing is not your strength (or, ahem, forte) – WHO CARES! One of my favorite voices in the world is that of a dear friend who rarely matches pitch of any melody – but she sings because she loves to do so.
This coming Saturday and Sunday (December 9th and 10th), thirty-four choir members will lead you in a musical journey re-telling the Christmas story through music and narration. We’ve spent hours studying the music, rehearsing, talking about the text, listening to the story. Glenda has compiled beautiful images to guide you, Jim has programmed the lights to highlight integral elements of both song and story, Steve has positioned microphones for the text and music to be heard, and Bob has integrated costumes into the narration that will take you back in time to the birth of our Saviour. But the work is not over – now it’s your turn.
At the end of the cantata, with the choir and orchestra, and with the entire live nativity on stage, we will sing our final song of the service and invite you to join us. (You get to sing from the comfort of your own seats, do not worry, I am not telling you to come onstage, that would get crowded.) But my challenge to you is that as you sing, you remember our friends in Sous-Raille, you remember the story of how they sang with abandon during their worship service. We have much to sing about. Christmas is not our birthday. The Saviour has been born to a world full of division and sin, of hate and anger. The Savior has finally been born to a world in need of His redemption and love. Joy to the World! That my friends, is something to sing about! I hope to see this weekend at the cantata, but more than that I can’t wait to hear you singing with us at the close of the service!
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing.
~Submitted by Beth Philemon, Traditional Music Director