Confession of a 40-year-old singer

Last night I did something that I’ve never done in all my forty years on Earth. I sang in a choir.

Now I’ve sung solo, I’ve sung in school with my class and I’ve sung along with the choir at mass, but yesterday was the first time I’ve actually sung as a member of a choir.

It wasn’t a lifetime’s ambition of mine or anything like that. It just happened last Sunday at Mass, just after the priest had delivered his sermon. He told the congregation that Mary, the conductor of the choir, was looking for new singers. So at the end of the Mass, after the last hymn had been sung and the people were filing out, I approached Mary and stated my interest in joining. She told me to come to the choral practice in St Michael’s Hall on Wednesday at eight o’clock.

And the day came. (My one fear was that the practice was at 8:00am and I had slept in and missed it, but that fear was dispelled when Mary phoned me up to confirm that it was indeed Wednesday at 8:00pm.) And when I did turn up, Mary introduced me to the other choristers, Lewis, Dermot, Anne… and a few others, but those are the only names I can remember right now. She handed me some sheet music and we proceeded from there. I was surprised at how well I was able to pick up the tunes even though I had only heard them a few times before. It was quickly established that my voice was best suited to the bass/baritone parts. And the atmosphere of the place was really warm and friendly, with all of us singing in unison and then in harmony, a few bars with women only, a few bars with the men only, then all of us singing together in praise of God.

This makes a real change to what I was like twenty-five years ago. At the time my voice was breaking and I couldn’t trust myself to hold a tune. And primary school didn’t have a comparable atmosphere to St Michael’s hall that night. There were good singers among us all right, but there were other boys who plainly preferred to be anywhere else but in school and others still who couldn’t sing for nuts.

I’ve regretted for so long that I never had the patience or follow-through to learn a musical instrument, but all my life I’ve had a musical instrument which was built into me by God. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realise this, but this voice of mine really is a gift from God, so the least I can do is look after it and use it to praise Him.

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