Measured Extravagance

26 August 2003 - 12:08 a.m.

". . .most alto parts written for your average four-part liturgical setting are pretty dull. Some alto parts go beyond mere boredom into active inanity. But some alto parts you couldn't make interesting if you sung them while performing the Dance of the Seven Veils in an Olympic-sized swimming pool filled with two tons of lemon Jell-O." - Naomi Chana

As it happens, the current count for my church choir is something like fourteen sopranos, ten altos, ten basses, and four tenors, so it looks like I'll remain "one of the guys" for the foreseeable future. (Not that I mind, but I'm also going to have to make a conscious effort to rebuild my upper notes - they've definitely faded out from lack of use.)

I was asked to help lead the worship portion of our retreat this past Saturday. After some thought, I wrote the following:

In this room, we bring together a wide range of experiences and many different talents. Combined together, our voices have the power to raise spirits and move hearts and bring both solace and joy to those who hear us. This choir is as diverse as the congregation it serves, with theists and atheists, humanists and mystics, cynics and idealists, people who show up every Sunday and people who show up only when the choir is singing - or when they're singing in the choir. There is great beauty when we make harmony out of our differences - when we blend together our wonderfully individual voices - and for this it is seems fitting to sing "Alleluia."

[The Alleluia = "Alleluia Chaconne," #386, in Singing a Living Tradition; known to the wider world as "Pachelbel's Canon"]

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