Rehearsal of the Concert Choir

Thirty-one young adult voices of various parts
move through five pieces in fits and starts
under the direction of Mr. Smith.

Psalm One-Eighteen has its complexities
and the students work their way forward—
after loosening warm-ups—
back and forth in progressive turn
as subtle shifts in melody are learned.

In the shaping of Wanting Memories,
Mr. Smith finally gets the blend he wants
from the sopranos
after catching himself at the piano—
“No, that’s not it”—and corrects the line.
All the sopranos get it this time
and Mr. Smith exclaims to the altos,
“Wasn’t that beautiful?!”

The group moves more quickly
through Slave Chorus,
perhaps owing to more practice
or maybe it’s a bit easier
in ways an observer cannot easily tell.

Something in their singing
of Eyes of All catches me
a bit off-guard
and I forget for a while
that I am here as teaching coach
and evaluating administrator.

In such singing as this,
at certain moments,
we become—even in the listening—
something more,
something larger,
something better.

In these finest notes
we seem more like angels,
less like dirt and sweat and bone.
Something more like light and air—
something closer to the home
we left long ago
in a place of ancient waters
where we were formed
by the finger of God
and became living souls.

In the blending of voices like this,
I close my eyes and believe
that indeed we received
and still carry
the very breath of God.

Yes, this is
Festival Sanctus.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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