ONG KONG is probably one of the most crowded and busiest cities in the world. To be honest, that is not something that I enjoy so much. However, Hong Kong is also one of the best-known international cities, and many artists like to visit this “Pearl of the Orient”. In the past few months, I have had the privilege to work with world-class musicians like John Rutter, Peter Philips and Paul Phoenix in Hong Kong. I also got to listen to The Sixteen and the Choir of King’s College; and I am very looking forward to see the Choir of St. John’s College next spring. It is wonderful to be able to sing and hear beautiful choral music!
As I give thanks to God for these amazing opportunities, I also ponder on the marvels of choral singing. Listening to these world’s best choirs was a “heavenly” experience; it must be the best human experience one can get on earth! After experiencing the perfect harmonies of choral singing, it would only make sense that human voice be the principle instrument in worship. The human voice is more powerful than any other instruments on earth because it can pray, sing and communicate to God in such a direct and clear manner; it is also the most fragile because one could loss his voice easily due to accidents or bad health. And choral singing requires even more efforts and teamwork. If one person in the group sings flat, losses the rhythm, sing too soon or cut off too late, the mistake will ruin the moment.
As I meditate deeper into the mystery of choral singing, I see an image of the Church in choirs: people, with different voice ranges, tone colors, etc., coming together united through singing. Our voices are all so unique that it can even be used to identify each of us; and yet people can disregard the differences and try to blend with one another, just like people with different talents come together in Christ.
The key to accomplishing the perfect harmonies and blending is by “constant conversion”. We must do self-reflection, then modify and perfect our singing. A good choral singer doesn’t compete with his teammates, but competes with himself. Each time when he sings, he tries to sing better than the last time. It is like the personal sanctification that all followers of Christ are called to do. A good singer also accepts humbly the assistance and guidance from the director and his fellow singers; just as we receive grace and strength from God. Through self-modification and humility, one can advance in choral techniques and produce the “heavenly” music.
In case some of you are curious of the beauty I have experienced, here is an example on Facebook. And of course, there are many more examples and we can all be one of them.
Soli Deo Gloria!