Friday, December 2, 2011

Festival of Carols

Brooks is thoroughly enjoying the wonderful music department which our high school offers. He is a freshman this year and has successfully infiltrated every corner of it as we add band, choir and orchestra concerts to the calendar this month. I believe the next step is clearly total world domination.

This is a busy weekend for us. Let me give you the run-down, for my organizational benefit as well as your entertainment. (Every time I talk to my devoted mother-in-law this week, she wants to do the run-down, too. "Now what's going on this weekend?" "Have I given you enough money for the tickets?" "Where is that concert located?" We did that conversation today. We did it last week. We'll do it again the next time we speak. She just doesn't want to miss an opportunity to support the kids.) Wed.: Tech rehearsal for Sophia's choir concert. Thurs.: Dress rehearsal for choir concert, middle school orchestra concert. Friday: First of three days of choir concerts. Sat.: All day chess tournament and second of the choir concerts. Sun.: Final choir concert, which conflicts with the high school orchestra concert. Immediately afterwards, we'll go to the church Christmas open house, hosted by the pastors.

These three days of choir concerts have become a meaningful part of my Decembers. Our local college puts on a Festival of Carols which involves all the music groups on campus and the children's choir which my children have been involved in. We first went when Brooks was a part of the choir and now, he's moved on and Sophia has joined the ensemble.

It takes place in the college's state-of-the-art performance facility, which offers gorgeous ambience and acoustics. The choirs and orchestras offer special pieces interspersed with traditional carols in which the audience is invited to participate. A large percentage of the audience is culturally Mennonite, and rich in choral ability, so the carols sound straight from the Herald Angels. I am in my element.

Here's what the Mennonites are not rich in: Sentimental Weepiness. From the third verse of the opening hymn, I am pressing my hankie to my mouth, trying to stifle the sobs and the Mennonites to my right and left look at me out of the corners of their eyes. Sobbing - It's just not a very German thing to do.

This wrecks me every, EVERY time, sung by the children's choir:

"And through all His wondrous childhood, He would honour and obey.
Love and watch the lowly maiden, in whose gentle arms He lay.
Christian children, all must be:
Mild obedient, good as He."

And then, children's and college choirs together (to me symbolizing the in-the-blink-of-an-eye "day by day" growth - whether or not the symbolism was intended):

"For He is our childhood's pattern
Day by day, like us He grew.
He was little, weak and helpless
Tears and smiles, like us He knew.
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness."

I mean, shut up.

I have tried to explain how obviously touching those words are to others, but my sobs always interrupt. And when I manage to convey the message of the text, the listener always just blinks at me. I don't know if they are touching to anyone else.



  1. ha- I'm Mennonite for centuries now, and I get weepy when my kids sing, let alone the WORDS.

    But DB, your schedule would kill me. Really kill me.

  2. Tee hee - I was eager to hear your input. But seriously. Seriously! Your version of weepy has GOT to be a gentle dabbing of the eyes for a moment. I go straight to the Ugly Cry and I Can. Not. Stop.

    I wonder what your schedule will look like when your kids are my kids' age. I feel we are very stingy about giving up time, but are often busier than we like. Maybe you will be better about setting limits. I can't think of anything we are in that has not been beneficial....

  3. Well, I've heard that we whose Anabaptist ancestry hails from Germany (as opposed to Switzerland) have genetic material in common with Italians. Something to do with how far north the Moors any rate, the audience can just be glad you didn't beat your breast and rend your garments.


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