Sing We Joyous, All Together

December 6, 2006

Holidailies 2006The annual Winter Candlelight Concert of the choral performing groups at Lynn’s high school was tonight. I didn’t go last year, Lynn’s second year out of high school, because she couldn’t get away from school and I didn’t want to miss the Advent scripture study at church. Lynn couldn’t come this year either, and as usual Ron had choir rehearsal at his church. But I felt myself in need of a musical interlude, a reward of sorts after a day of baking chocolate chip cookies and trying (unsuccessfully) to compose a note to accompany a gift of Tess Gallagher’s Moon Crossing Bridge, her poems of mourning and recovery after the death of her husband, Raymond Carver. (I’ve given several copies of these wonderful poems to recent widows. This fall I’ve needed four of them.)

The choral group at Lynn’s school is smaller than it was when she was there, down about twenty-five voices. The members who are seniors were freshmen when Lynn last stood among them. I know a few others from church. I saw several adults I know, among them the mother of Lynn’s now former boyfriend (a contentious breakup in September of a relationship that had endured three and a half years) and the principal who retired last year, a man whom I have always revered.

The music was as well-prepared and inspiring as I have come to expect. The program always includes sacred music such as Ave Verum Corpus by William Byrd and a Festival Sanctus by John Leavitt, some Hanukkah songs in English and Hebrew, some secular winter songs, and a Moses Hogan spiritual. This year’s concert featured How Do I Love You, a setting of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem by an exciting young Japanese-American composer named Kentaro Sato, who came from California to work with the students in the afternoon and conduct his piece in the evening.

At the end I joined others — visiting alumni, parents, friends — on stage as is customary for a singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.

It was a nice concert, and I’m glad I went. But I find that that part of my life is receding farther and farther from me, and I feel a little sad about it.

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