All Saints Sunday invites us to recall the impact other Christians have had on our lives. This year, I’m thinking particularly about choir members from various churches that I have served. Perhaps it’s just a sign of my own advancing age (51 this year!), but it seems like I know more and more people who have joined the church triumphant.
Jim joined the choir at Faith United Methodist because his wife, who sang alto, asked him to. He was a gifted musician who taught band and orchestra in the Duval County School system. I was a little intimidated when he joined my choir. I’m certain I must have said and done things that made him cringe, but he never once rolled his eyes or tried to correct me. Years later his wife confessed to me that some Wednesday evenings she would suggest they take a “night off” from choir practice, but he always told her they had made a commitment and needed to honor it. When Jim died, the choir sang Andrew Carter’s “God Be in My Head” as the casket was taken out of the church. For those who don’t know this beautiful prayer from the historic Sarum prayer book:
God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and in my departing.
Anne sang in the choir at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. She was always faithful in her attendance – and not only in the choir. She was one of those saints that everybody looked to for guidance and her non-anxious presence. Her house was near mine, and I rarely pass it without thinking of her.
Viki was on the committee that hired me for my current post. The first day I came into the office, there was a card from her on my desk that started “Welcome back to the Lutheran church. . .” After I was hired, her job wasn’t done. She was always checking in with me to see how things were going and making sure I had adequate resources. She gave St. Mark’s so many gifts and they are still around me today.
There have been many other faithful choir members I have been fortunate to work with over the years. To all of you, living and deceased, thank you for your hard work and support. I know I haven’t always been easy to work with. Thank you for sticking with me through the easy and the difficult times, through the right notes and the real clunkers, the good direction and missed cues, the anthems that went really well and the ones that nearly fell apart.
This list is my no means exhaustive, but some of those who have joined the church choir triumphant are:
Moose (All Saints Protestant Chapel at NAS Jax)
Shirley (All Saints)
Bev (All Saints)
Mark (All Saints)
Jim (Faith UMC)
Reba (St. Luke’s Episcopal)
Anne (St. Luke’s)
Betty (St. Luke’s)
Viki (St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church)
I don’t know specifically what happens after we die (this post is about gratitude, not theology), but I believe that one day our voices will be joined together again. This Sunday, as the assembly at St. Mark’s says, “I believe. . .in the resurrection of the dead,” it is many of you who will come to my mind.
Top: The choir at St. Luke's Episcopal Church with Father Ken Roach (ca. 2003)
Middle: The choir of Fort Caroline Presbyterian Church at an anthem festival at Palms Presbyterian Church (ca.1988)
Bottom: The choir of Faith United Methodist Church prepares for "An Old Fashioned Christmas" (ca. 1998)