HE SACRED SCRIPTURE (Psalm 103:30) says: “Thou shalt send forth thy spirit, and they shall be created: and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.” Monsignor Knox translates this as: “Then thou sendest forth thy spirit, and there is fresh creation; thou dost repeople the face of earth.” What does it mean for something to be “renewed?” Certainly there are many correct answers. Our Blessed Lord Himself describes a type of “renewal” in John 12:14. Our children keep guinea pigs, which are marvelous examples of God’s creation. I say this because every animal, every plant, every amoeba, every speck of air, every cell, and every organ in our body is a testament to God the creator. 1 Guinea pigs were created in a certain way—indeed, a perfect way—which has allowed their species to survive since their creation in spite of how defenseless, fragile, and innocent they are.
Keeping Choirs “Renewed” • Many people approached me after last year’s Sacred Music Symposium and gave me feedback I found flattering. They said: “Everything you said was so valuable, we wish you just talked the entire week without stopping.” Since people found my advice inspiring, this year I will speak about recruiting choir members and keeping choirs happy, vibrant, healthy, and renewed. After all, it’s not enough to recruit—the conscientious choirmaster must keep each member engaged. Put another way, choirs must constantly be renewed.
A Small Preview • Obviously, I’m not going to type out my entire presentation here. But I will give you a little ‘hint’ about a theme I will emphasize very much: musical diversity. When we have rehearsal, we don’t do one piece the entire time. We begin with a set of unvarying “rituals.” Then we usually divide the rehearsal into different parts: Renaissance polyphony, plainsong, sectionals, announcements, contemporary polyphony, and so forth. One thing my singers absolutely love is learning SATB parts to the hymns in the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal.
We are learning the following hymn by Father Frederick William Faber (d. 1863) in SATB:
Stuttgart Hymn • We are using Lenten verses for the STUTTGART HYMN. I probably sound like a broken record … but the choir members really enjoy the soprano descant and SATB parts on the various verses:
Conclusion • There’s something fresh and magical about these Brébeuf melodies. Choir members find them invigorating, fun, and renewing. Those who have never stood before a choir in real life might consider it “easy” to sing SATB hymns. The truth is, the conscientious choirmaster must work with the Tenor and Bass parts for a considerable stretch of time to achieve perfection.
1 We know that the (unthinkably complex) human eye, for example, is not a result of “luck” or evolution. Nor is the human reproductive system. Nor are human lungs. Nor is the human digestive track. Nor is the growth of a human inside the mother, requiring no outside air until the moment of birth. And so forth, and so on.