Sing to the Lord, all the Earth
There are many references to praising the Lord with song, with instruments, the lyre and the timbrel, in Holy Scripture. Men and women who have the talent should avail themselves to their churches to play an instrument or sing, and many do. “He who sings,” said St. Augustine, “prays twice.” I’ve been singing in church choirs since I was 6 or 7 years old. I vaguely remember my first choir; it was in a large chapel of a boarding school for boys in the Netherlands in a tiny town called Sint-Michielsgestel. Br. Venard was choir director and he did a great job directing a 4-part choir (SATB-Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass). After about four years of that I moved, or rather my parents did and I next sang in a Capuchin community as an adult. Recollections were vague as there was a lot happening in my life when I was 19 or 20.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; with the lyre make music to our God. (Ps 147:7) I did not sing during or after military service, in fact not for 30 years, but from about 1990 on, I haven’t stopped singing. This year (2019) I was hospitalized with lung problems which still affects my voice but it’s getting better, praise God, and I resumed singing with St. Helen Church choir in Vero Beach under the leadership of Dolores Mark.
Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth; break into song; sing praise. (Ps 98:4) I love to sing because I love to praise the Lord. I also love to write, hence these reflections. Some of the greatest pieces I have participated in are the special Christmas presentations at our parish. In 2018, we did, “A Gathering of Hope, Peace & Love by Pepper Choplin.” (Lorenz Corp.) It was, in part, difficult to sing. Most often I sing bass and there aren’t many of us. Very often I am the sole bass but fortunately in the Christmas program there were several bass singers, borrowed from other area churches.
Singing in choir is a definite commitment in time. Choir practice which we hold on Wednesday evenings can be short (about an hour) or longer for special programs going to two or more evenings per week. I cannot recall how many participated in the 2018 production but there were many with full instrumentation. Still, I recommend people who love God and who love to sing to join us, or your own church’ choir.
I’d like to see more Gregorian Chant used again. Gregorian Chant isn’t easy to sing but when sung well, it adds to the solemnity of Holy Mass. One of the problems is that the people in the pews have a hard time participating and if parishioners are discouraged from singing along, they become “the audience.” Holy Mass should be a union between presider and the faithful, at least in my view. For 5 years I was a member of a religious order, and although they did not have their own choir, we went to Holy Mass, daily, at the Benedictines down the road in Petersham, MA. Their Liturgy was Gregorian Chant and I was in heaven, I loved it and it aided in my spirituality. Unfortunately, the order I was with ceased to exist although I left before its demise, but when I returned to Vero Beach, I rejoined St. Helen’s choir almost immediately.
I also love choral and classical organ music and listen to CD’s as I sit here writing reflections. The CD that’s on now is Virgil Fox (1912-1980) Soli Deo Gloria. He plays at the Riverside Church (New York City) on a Cavaille-Coll Pipe Organ, the sound of which I love. In my twenties, my father who loved organ too, and I often went to organ concerts there. Mr. Fox was an expert on works composed by César Franck, a Belgian composer of great renown. My New York forays to organ recitals were almost 40 years ago and that was in another era. Still I miss it.
Nowadays I keep busy with the Secular Franciscan Order of which I am a long-time member. I have a website, in which you’ll find more reflections. You’ll find these at: https://www.dmf-ofs.org/
Peace and Good!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS 9/26/2019
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs