The Foothills Choir MinistryBy Anne Bullard
September is here, and with it the return of Choir to the 8:30 worship service. This year marks my 9th season with the Foothills Choir, and I want to share a bit about this integral part of the Foothills family.
I joined Choir shortly after my mother passed away. I was so broken emotionally and needed a structured time of worship beyond once a week on Sunday. Carol Paton welcomed my participation, not troubled at all that I could not read music. I did not even know in what section I belonged! No matter. Over the course of that first year I just followed along the best I could at Thursday rehearsals, and sat in the Choir loft on Sundays, joining in whenever I could. I eventually found my voice in the Alto section and have remained there ever since.
I can hardly describe what a welcoming group you find at Choir rehearsal. Even before you know people enough to chat about their week, someone is helping you find your place in the music. Small jokes and asides between folks around you, and then Carol's voice calling the group to order. The list of anthems for the evening rehearsal is on the white board at the front of the room, and then work begins in earnest. Glen plays the opening pitches on the piano, and singing starts on cue.
Over the years I have come to really appreciate Carol's method of preparing the Choir for Sunday mornings. The first few anthems practiced are scheduled for several weeks in the future. This can feel like real work because the tunes and harmonies may be unfamiliar, and the rhythms complicated. We might start in the middle of the piece or even at the end to work on a difficult section. The sopranos, altos, basses, and tenors sing their parts as they are written, and then some voice sections may be worked on their own to learn a particular part. The work is technical and you just have to try your best and have faith in the process. Towards the middle of the rehearsal time, we work on the anthem for the upcoming Sunday. Now the work seems easier and fun because the melodies and harmonies are familiar and we are merely fine-tuning the dynamic aspects written in the score. Then, too, Carol often adds her artistic statement, instructing us about particular phrasing and pronunciation. As the rehearsal winds-down, we work on those pieces that are becoming familiar after several weeks of effort.
I experience true joy when we sing something that may have been done seasons before and is like visiting with an old friend to sing again. Choir is a significant commitment, but the personal rewards are rich. The fellowship among the choristers and the beauty and strength of the message in the music is a humbling gift. Give Choir a try and see what you think!