“It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep…”
50 years ago today, I was standing backstage of a theatre in England with 100+ other OH kids waiting to sing our first concert before British royalty. The director stepped up to me and asked, “Are you ready to sing your solo tonight?”
I said, “I guess.”
He looked at me for what seemed eternity, and then said, “Since you’re not sure, John will sing it tonight.” John did sing it that night and did a great job. Me? I learned a tough lesson.
I got to sing my solo many times after that – once in front of the Vatican and a Pope who came to stand on the balcony – but I never forgot that one particular lesson or many others that my director, Glenville Thomas, taught me during my two years with The All Ohio State Fair Choir.
Looking back through my teenage scrapbook this week made me smile. From the distinctive, high school handwriting to the blurry pictures to the various faded newspaper clippings to the required (by the director) letters I wrote home to the anxious parents to a few postcards and old mimeographed programs, I kept chuckling all the way through those bittersweet times.
Wondering about those lost singing buddies –
Looking at the list of songs I can still sing in my head –
Thinking about the many lessons I learned because a Welsh immigrant who loved to sing had a dream.
“…the night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.”– Rom 13:11
It was during these two years that my fascinations with old churches and singing under bridges all began. It was a different time. A different culture. We were given freedom to roam away from the group, and there was a group of us who would seek out old churches – even the ones we weren’t singing in.
There was almost always at least one STAB quartet in our group so we could sing in harmony on most anything we decided to sing and the acoustics were well worth the seeking. If we couldn’t find churches, we would find bridges and sing under them. If we couldn’t find bridges, we sang in parks. And sometimes – we just sang in the lobby of the hotel.
No matter where we sang, people gathered. They laughed.
They smiled. They found ways to communicate with us even when we didn’t speak the same language. And – strange as it may seem, I remember those tiny concerts much more than I remember the ones we did as an entire group before large impressive crowds. And I remember the choir director who smiled and listened to our stories when we returned.
“I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.”~Ps 104:33
My voice has been gone for a couple of years, but the last few months it seems to be making a comeback. So I have been stretching it and pushing the boundaries a little. It is still not in great shape, but it is better, and I have started to sing just for the joy of singing again.
Darkness is like that. The eyes grow heavy, and it is hard to find the joy in being awake in this world. Yet – even in the darkest night I continue to push myself into the WORD. Push myself to understand what is beyond my understanding. Seek to find that nook where I can stand or fall to my knees or dance for joy or sing a new song for the One who loves me beyond measure.
“…for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed…let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of Light.”~Rm 13:11-12
Time to awaken from sleep.
Time to open the eyes.
Time to stand in the nook.
Time to sing for joy.
Time for Grace.