News from Vermont #374 The Spirit of a Song

January 11, 2017

Hello again Maple People,
My Aunt June approached me a month before Christmas asking if I’d sing in the Old Meeting House choir for their Christmas Eve service. She is the accompanist for the choir and wanted to have a full group for that special occasion. First of all, although I can carry a tune, I’m not a good singer. Every bone in my body secretly croaked “No way!” in my singing style, but I could not turn my dear Aunt down. So, there I was, trying to hold down one of the tenor spots and leaning heavily on the guy next to me.
The decision had to be made: Do I simply “mouth” the words and allow no sound to come out or do I make an honest attempt to sing my part. Sort of opting for a combination of both, I stumbled along in our few rehearsals and stayed with the group through the blessed Christmas Eve service, providing my weak vocal talents to the collective effort.
Here she is, The Old Meeting House
The Old Meeting House has held a special place in my heart for most of my lifetime. It stands just exactly one mile from my home, right beside the one-room school I attended (and, yes, walked one mile to and from each day). The post and beam framework was erected by a great, great, great, great grandfather of mine, Mr. Lovell Kelton, back in 1823. That framework, according to  church records, “is firmly anchored with great chains to the ledge upon which it is built. The church is quite literally founded upon a rock.”. I well remember that ledge from my days next door at the Center School when we would sneak into the church’s massive crawl space to play cowboys and Indians.
We children also participated every Christmas time in a Nativity Pageant at the Old Meeting House. That Nativity Pageant was a gala event, even performed on occasion with real live animals. One year in particular found me wanting a main part, maybe even Joseph. I remember thinking that my natural ability to carry a tune might help me toward that end. I even did some warming up the night before. But when the parts were assigned and I was issued a shovel to clean up after the donkey, I finally realized that singing was not my forte!
Despite all my worries about my own participation, the recent Christmas Eve service went very well. Our choir belted out several Christmas pieces, including “Glory To God” from The Messiah, one of my favorites from my student days in Johnson State College’s Collegium Musicum Choir. The best part of the night, though, was at the end when everyone in the church was handed a candle. The preacher instructed us on safety protocol and then a lighted candle was passed to each of us for lighting our own.  And what a magnificent sight it was when the house lights were turned off, seeing all those candles illuminating that ancient church! The evening ended with the strains of Silent Night sung by the whole congregation in that cherished old place of worship, in celebration of another ancient event…”Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…”

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