Wednesday, November 15, 2006

YouthCUE Carson-Newman 2006

Blogger's note: This entry was written before the event mentioned but posted after.

I will be away this Sunday taking 16 of our Youth Choir members to YouthCUE’s Carson-Newman Choral Festival. This will be the 4th year that we have taken choir members, and the largest group we have taken since we began going to this festival every Fall.

There are a couple of things about this year that are particularly exciting. First, our conductor this year is already somewhat known to our kids who have been before. Dr. Eric Thorson conducts the Carson-Newman A Cappella Choir. A regular feature of the festival is a Friday evening mini-concert by this group for the YouthCUE participants. Because Dr. Thorson is our conductor this year, he has decided to add the voices of the Carson-Newman A Cappella Choir to our voices for the YouthCUE event. The maturity and musicianship that those voices will add to the teenagers’ voices will make the experience all that much richer for our kids. I can’t wait to hear it.

I’m further excited to see and hear the wonderfully rich poetry combined with well-written tunes and harmonies that the kids will sing. Our teenagers will spend literally hours during the weekend in rehearsals with the music and the texts. Their ears, mouths, hearts, and minds … yes, even their very souls … will be deeply immersed in scriptural truth and beautiful music for that time. Contrast that with the junk with which they are bombarded in their day-to-day lives. Some aspects of this experience will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

I’m already emotional about one of the pieces in the repertoire for the festival. The text is paraphrased from Ecclesiastes chapters 1 and 12. It begins by painting a rather bleak picture of the vanity of human existence (you may remember how Ecclesiastes begins). Mark Hayes’s music beautifully illustrates the text by John Parker. His genius is no clearer in any other work that I know of.

The anthem’s final thought, however, redeems everything: “To love our God, the reason we live; To love our God, the highest call. Nothing satisfies our soul, gives life meaning, makes us whole. For this purpose we were made: to love our God.” If our kids remember nothing else from the weekend, I want that thought to carry them throughout the rest of their lives. “The reason that we live is to love our God.” That’s enough to think about for now.


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