I’ll be singing at my church’s Easter Musical next month! For those who know me, that first sentence sounded like hyperbole. But it isn’t. It’s true, guys. I actually just finished practicing my narrative lines (I’ll be singing and narrating) for the day. “Cornell? Singing in a musical? Get out!” I know. It sounds unbelievable. But not as unbelievable as some of the lessons I have been learning in the few days of practice that we’ve had so far. You see, most of the songs that we’ll be singing will contain 3-part harmonies. That’s right, I know about harmonies! (this is exciting). Anyway, this means that we’ll be having three different voices (sopranos, altos and tenors) singing the same lines but in different styles(?).
I have to admit, in my 3-week singing career, I have already come to dislike harmonies. Our choirmaster, Chris, is really patient with us. But it’s just not fair that the sopranos get to sing the melody while the altos and the tenors sing (what honestly sounds like) a totally different song. It’s not difficult to master the tenor style when practicing individually, but something just happens when we all begin to sing together. Somehow, I find myself forgetting how tenors are supposed to sing and I succumb to the irresistible seduction of the melody. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve found myself singing along to the soprano voices instead of my fellow tenors. I just can’t seem to get myself to lock out those other voices and focus on my part. It is hard work. I am not so sure I will be able to pull it off. But I haven’t lost hope.
If what I just described above sounds like Greek to you, well, you’re not alone. I can barely understand much of what I am talking about. All I know is that this experience has led me to view choirs in a totally different light. It’s a paradigm shift, if you ask me. To be honest, I don’t like the way tenors are meant to sing their parts. If they were the only ones singing, I wouldn’t buy that CD. Neither do I get altos. On their own, they just sound like a bunch of ladies undecided on whether to sing the melody or not. I envy the sopranos, they get to sing the easy and melodious parts of the song.
This dissatisfaction with my part in the choir can get to me, until I remember what the final product sounds like. Since we have a CD of the original songs that we’re singing, we get to listen to what the final product ought to sound like. Only one word can describe it: HEAVEN.
The harmony sounds nothing like the bland and boring tenor voice. The luke-warm altos fade away in the face of the glorious harmonies. And no, the sopranos have nothing on the final harmony of all three voices singing together. Unfortunately, being part of the choir, I cannot hear the harmony. I am too busy trying to remember my style and resisting the temptation to succumb to the melody or critique the altos. But I know that it is the church audience that will hear the final harmony. They will be too dazzled to boo at the bland and boring tenors. Too wowed to pay attention to the non-committal altos. They will be too mesmerized by the harmonies to even notice the enviable sopranos. Yet, they will only be able to hear it, if I focus on my part. If we all focus on mastering our voices.
This short choir experience is teaching me three great lessons. The first lesson is that we are all important and necessary parts of a beautiful body. The Body of Christ. The second lesson is that the beauty of this Body is best revealed when I focus more on mastering my part and less on envying or criticizing other people’s parts. The third lesson is that as long as we keep our eyes on Chris, our choirmaster, we don’t have to worry about not singing in sync. Yes, as long as we keep our eyes on Christ, our Choirmaster, we do not have to worry about not singing in sync.
I used to think choirs were boring. Now I realize that choirs are anything but boring. One-man-worship-leader rock bands have nothing on choirs. Choirs rock!
Every church needs a choir because every church is a choir.