Sunday, December 25, 2016

Put your hands in the air like you do care

Christmas Eve, 2016.  Vicksburg.

Kathe and I went to the candelight service at the church we have been attending.  It was a packed house, and we stood against the back wall.  Several people made moves to allow us to sit together, and we shoehorned our way between the end of the back pew and a lovely couple from Colorado Springs, who had just arrived on the steamboat between New Orleans and Vicksburg.

The service was lovely.  There were kids everywhere, and the joyous laughter rang out throughout the service.  There was no shushing, there was no embarrassment that the kids were not sitting silently.  And there certainly were no trips outside, with the stern promise of a more severe spanking when we get home.

But I digress.

There was lots of beautiful music - organ, violin, solo, piano.  The old, familiar carols.  The children's choir, singing one I did not know.  Then a  children's sermon, with fifty children all joined at the front of the sanctuary.

And then Sharon Penley got up to sing.

Sharon is our choir director, and she has a passion about music that is very nearly unrivaled.  When we first spoke, she told me that when she sings, it is like she gets transported to heaven.  And when she directs the choir, it is like bringing her best friends to go there with her.

I believe her.  She is amazing, and lets us be amazing with her.

She has a beautiful, powerful mezzo soprano voice.  And when she stood up, and the organist began the opening arpeggio of O Holy Night, I got excited.  This was going to be special.

It was.

I closed my eyes, savoring the beauty of the full sound, all the way back in the back of a church designed for acoustics.  And just after Sharon got to "Fall on your knees. Oh! Hear the angel voices" I got a nudge from Kathe.  I opened my eyes and looked at where she was indicating, and saw the most amazing scene.

About six rows up, there was a darling little girl - maybe 18 months.  We had admired her earlier during the children's message - how beautiful and well behaved she was.

When Sharon's voice reached its powerful crescendo, this tiny girl stood up in her mother's lap, and reached her hands to the sky, as if to make herself bigger so she could hear the notes better.  Her entire little body became an antenna for the sound Sharon was making, and this child was giving it back with every thing she had. Hands up in the air, then clasping them together as if to hold on to the sound, keeping it from escaping.

Oh night when Christ as born.  Oh, night divine.  Oh, holy night.

Without question, it was.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

1 comment:

Rocky Henriques said...

I wasn't there when this occurred, but I have heard Sharon Penley sing on other occasions, and I certainly agree with what you say about her passion for music. Your description of what happened is so vivid I got chill bumps!