I am an alto in the choir of my church, Tacoma First Presbyterian. There are about twenty of us in the choir, and I like to think we sound good, although we are almost all amateur musicians and none of us had to audition for our spot. The choir sings every Sunday for 10 months out of the year, and although our hearts are in what we do, I won’t say that this weekly glory-to-God-in-the-highest never becomes routine–to us and to the congregation.
So in the very best way possible, it shook this alto up a bit last week to find myself in the midst of a choir that had doubled, surrounded by guitars, brass, handbells and organ. Under the leadership of our new music director, Daniel Perrin, our church put on a concert in our sanctuary on July 22. Our own musicians were joined by many that Daniel knew from ourside our church, including 13-year-old Natalie Dungey, who has won a national trumpet competition two years in a row. All of the music was glorious.
But I think what excited me most was the creative example that this was. We were not limited by what was immediately available to us or by what we were used to. Daniel has been with our chuch for about five months, and like our pastor Eric Jacobsen he believes that our beautiful old sanctuary is the perfect venue for creative new expressions of worship. Daniel took what we already had, musically and architecturally, and added to it by writing new arrangements, recruiting outside musicians, positioning brass players in the balconies, and having to pull it together in such short order that in rehearsal we spoke of avoiding train wrecks. (This was beginning to seem like triage . . .) But the musicians caught the vision, and the heavens opened–right there on the corner of Division and Tacoma Ave.
Sometimes it’s instructive to see what happens when an artist sticks his neck out and offers much more than what has been asked for. What would happen in our faith community if other artists in our midst began finding ways to offer their writing, their painting, their dramatic gifts? Risky, but who knows? Maybe the snowball effect would be miraculous.
So I want to say a heart-felt thank you to Daniel and the guest musicians for this wonderful example. May the inspiration linger and spread.