I've known what I wanted to write today for a while, but the words aren't flowing. I'll muddle through this and hope you can forgive that the prose doesn't quite match the feeling.
As a kid, I was blessed with a 'second family'. Dick and Marcella lived around the corner, and they were the adults who adored the neighborhood kids, especially me and Kathi. We eventually began attending Mass with them nearly every Sunday.
The highlight of attending church for me was the music. To this day, I hear certain songs and they bring back memories of sitting in the crying room at Sacred Heart with Dick, Marcella and my 'sorta sister', their daughter Mary. Songs that convey so much feeling in their simplicity. "Eagle's Wings", "I Will Raise Him Up" and "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring".
I'm not a church goer, but I consider myself spiritual. I feel that music is how I relate to my faith best.
In high school, I was blessed once again-with an amazing choir director. We had our own "Mr. Holland" in S. Talbot Thayer. He had a passion for the music and you couldn't help but feel the same way about the music and about being in that choir room. There are several posts in my future about that part of my life, today's is just a small portion of it.
We did two concerts each year, one in the Winter and one in the Spring. Many of the songs in our repertoire were sacred in nature, as they were masterpieces. Each spring, we did a major choral masterwork, and most of them related to Easter. In 9th grade, we were invited to participate with the high school's performance of Schubert's "Mass In G". To this day, I hear Mister Mister's "Kyrie" and know that they've mangled the translation of the words.
For the two following years, we performed another sacred piece, along with many other songs of faith. (Senior year was Carmina Burana, which contained profane songs! in several languages, even). It was a great foundation in classical music, but more importantly, a way to enjoy expressions of faith when you're not inclined to attend church.
We performed segments of Handel's Messiah, and as Rich commented several months back, the "Halleluiah Chorus" is really part of the Easter portion, not Christmas.
I could go on and on about the specific pieces and their history, composers, musical style, but that would just serve to bore those of you who aren't as enamored of choral music (now if you are, feel free to email me and we can discuss further). But there is one piece that to this day, brings tears to my eyes for the power of the message. One that is so appropriate for Easter.
We closed each Spring concert and choir event by forming a ring and holding hands, singing Peter Lutkin's "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." I went searching on You Tube a few months ago and found it-performed by a choir directed by a classmate. It is just as powerful to me (and tear causing) as when I was one of the performers.
The Lord Bless You and Keep You (arr. Peter Lutkin)
The Lord bless you and keep you
the Lord lift his countenance upon you
and give you peace (and give you peace)
The lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious, unto you
the Lord be gracious unto you. Amen.
Just today, I got an email from one of our scout den leaders in which a parable is given about asking God to show a sign that he is there. All I need is a song like this to know.