I am writing to sing the praises of the music program (pun intended) and of the congregation that makes it possible. I have recently found myself feeling a bit prouder than usual of our UUSM music program. The choir has been my home for many years. Singing is something I love to do, and I am better at it with a group. My primary motivation for joining the choir has been selfish, to find fellowship in singing with a group. And I have found that over and over again – as music directors, fellow singers, our paid professionals have all changed – the fellowship and community has stayed constant.
But ripples have a way of moving outward and so does the effect of the music program. As I am feeling my emotional uplift from being with my beloved altos in the choir while we sing, I often look out at the congregation to see the countenances of our beloved community transformed by the rhythm, harmonies, and lyrics all weaving a transcendent moment in the service. I have felt connections with individuals who are bursting with the need to sing along or to move in time with the music. I have encountered people who have been drawn in from the street just by the music alone. I have seen the disappointment of someone who approached the church to enjoy the music only to find the service was over. The emotional resonance of the music at so many levels is clear. The weaving of music throughout the service is glue that binds us both with familiarity and the delight of hearing something new. It is a guide to lead us into emotional states of readiness for various parts of the liturgy.
The music is clearly essential.
This has been true my whole time at UUSM. So what has made me feel a bit more pride? Pride in this program is not new. The tremendous work and beautiful music that came out of our time in the COVID lockdown made me very proud. This year, as we have returned to a more normal way of engaging worship, the music program has worked hard to make sure we take the investment in the program seriously and have tried to return more than an emotional uplift. I have watched a child who dreams of being a professional singer has had her dream affirmed by our professionals while sitting on the chancel steps. Our professionals have led the music in the service and shared their talents individually in profound ways.
This year, our choir has had three all church fundraisers instead of our usual single Dining for Dollars performance. How about joining us for the June 16th karaoke event? We are transitioning to electronic copies of music so that we don’t have to print as much paper. We have worked consciously to be aware of where we need to increase our lens for diversity. We have been a mirror for the goals of the wider church. My pride comes from our immersion into the life of UUSM. We are not an isolated entity of the church. We are an integrated part, not separate from the beloved community from which we spring. And we are feeling it. My pride comes from the deep connection and synergy the music program has as a part of this congregation. My pride is in the hard work members of the music program are willing to put in to make something beautiful and encompassing. My pride is in being part of congregation which supports this program. And so I sing and will continue to do so both selfishly and as a way to give back to a congregation which has sustained me over the years. And I am sure I will continue to be proud…of all of us.