Every Tuesday afternoon after school we elementary-aged “church kids” gathered in the church’s basement assembly room. It wasn’t dreary down there, but brightly painted and well lit. Small Sunday school rooms surrounded this larger multipurpose room. The white benches we sat on were hard, straight up and down, but we didn’t care. We were just there to be with friends and sing. A well-tuned upright piano stood at attention in the corner, awaiting the start of choir practice.
I loved Mrs. Edwards, our children’s choir director, especially her shoes; but that was beside the point. She had a heart for teaching us not only how to sing, but to sing in harmony. That required much patience on her part as there were often more than twenty of us easily distracted, squirming kids. Memorizing scripture was also an important part of this time together. While the sopranos learned the melody of a song in the main room, the other kids would practice and study their verses in a Sunday school room. That was repeated over and over as the altos and the tenors each took their turns working on their harmony parts. Then we would all come together to see how we sounded all together. It was magical. Of course, we memorized our songs, too, to be sung without holding the music books in our hands. I grew to understand the importance of disciplined, repetitive practice.
We eventually learned to keep our hands to ourselves and our eyes on Mrs. Edwards. “Fairest Lord Jesus” was the song I most remember our choir singing in front of the congregation in full three-part harmony. And the First Psalm was one of the blocks of scripture I most remember memorizing. No doubt there were other songs and other scriptures, but those remained in my heart over the years.
I didn’t realize it then, but what a blessed experience I was having in this choir.I’m so grateful to my parents for having encouraged me to love and participate in making music. Even though I took private piano and violin lessons (liking and learning both, but not excelling in either), this early choir experience molded my love of choir participation. Even now, when given the opportunity to sing in a choir, I will do it if I can, always making a joyful noise. Thanks be to God for the gifts of song.