He is risen ... Christ is risen, indeed ...
A full house for early service this morning at First Prez-Midland, and I don't think anyone went home disappointed. The church's staff and ministry did themselves proud today, and the message of Christ's resurrection - and our salvation - was loud, clear and compelling.
There was a little something for everyone ... including me. A small notice in the church bulletin said, "Those who have sung the 'Hallelujah Chorus' and would like to join with the choir in this great anthem, please come to the chancel during the singing of 'Christ is Risen! Shout Hosanah!'"
I had ... so I did. And, for only the second time in more than thirty years, I sang that awesome piece with a choir. And not just the choir this morning, but accompanied by brass, tympani and organ.
I was a tenor in high school, and I don't quite have the range now, that I did then. The lump in my throat - not the result of stage fright but, rather of exhileration - didn't help either ... it was a wonderful moment. And even as I mangled this note or that, I didn't care ... I was making a joyful noise, nonetheless.
And, I enjoyed it so much that, this year, I came back and sang at late service, as well.
Perhaps what I felt was something like what Edward Hoagland once described ...
"Though I'd seen mobs behave savagely, some of my experience was of the moments when, on the contrary, a benign expressiveness, even a kind of sweetness, is loosed. When life seems to be an unmixed good, the more the merrier, and each man rises to a sense of glee and mitigation, alleviation, or freedom that, perhaps, we wouldn't quite dare to feel if he were alone. The smiling likeness, infectious blitheness, the loose, exultant sense of unity in which sometimes, the mass of people as a whole, seems to improve upon the better nature of the parts."
"This intrigued me."
"Just as with other natural wonders of the world, to which one relinquishes one's self, instead of feeling smaller, I often felt bigger when I was packed into a multitude And taking for granted the potential for mayhem of crowds, of which so much has been written, I was fascinated instead by the clear, pealing gaiety."
"It manifests itself, for instance, in the extraordinary quality that singing by a congregation acquires. The humdrum and unlovely voices gradually merge into a sweet, uniquely pristine note, a note angelic-sounding, hardly believable. Looking about, one can't see who in particular might have such a voice. Everybody in the pew has an expression as if he were about to sneeze, and squawks just a little. It is a note created only when hundreds sing ... it needs them all. No single person is responsible, any more than any individual in a mob lends that its bestiality."
"It's like riding in surf. It's like a Dantean ascent ... one circle up. Suddenly, we like all these strangers, even the stranger in ourselves, and seem to see a shape in life, as if all the exertions of the week really were justified and were a source of joy."
Alleluia ... Amen
With thanks to Florence Sherwood, Chorus Director at Dallas Senior High School, Dallas, Pennsylvania, for her wonderful talent and her incredible patience.