Just Singing

I just returned, late last night, from a worship symposium held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I belong to a choir called Inshallah, based at the school where I work: Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. Inshallah sings the songs of our neighbours around the world, especially – although not restricted to – the global south. The songs reflect the reality of the communities of their provenance: poor and yet rich with a deep joy; marginalized and yet attentive to a sustained realization of hope; victimized and yet marked by a sure grasp by and of the Reign of God. Our choir is led by Debbie Lou Ludolph, who inspires and coaxes beauty out of some 120 voices, which includes some – such as mine – that have little or no formal musical training. About 70 of us made our way to Calvin, where we gave two workshops and led one evening prayer service.

We travelled by bus, which is always a rich way to be together as a community. A certain comradery evolves in the gift of losing control of our transit and handing it over to the bus driver and tour coordinator. A kind of ebb and flow ensues between busy chatter, and then hushed attention to books, or the scenery, or the evolving landscape of a mind en route. The odd nap envelops those so inclined. You have opportunity to know people differently in this venue.

The symposium was rich. I learned much, met some wondrous folk, and had opportunity to grow more deeply into our repertoire and its community of singers. It strikes me, increasingly, that at the heart of justice is the task of simply being together. Song enables the singers to be together, a phenomenon we experienced anew over the weekend. But as our choir director regularly reminds us, the songs themselves also provide us with a bridge to those who sing them in their own context so that we can be with them, in a fashion. She asked me to provide a blessing which reflected the content of some of these songs at the end of the Vespers service we led. I offer it here for you.

May the creating God, who covets your brokenness, meet you deep in the world’s wounds.
May the crucified God, whose arms wrap the world round, draw your circle wide.
May the spiriting God, who is our grace, our peace, make of you peacemakers.
And may you rest forever blessed in our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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12 thoughts on “Just Singing

  1. Thanks for sharing this blessing. It touched me deeply.

  2. shoreacres says:

    It sounds like a lovely and fruitful trip, and I must say, your music is wonderful. Of course I went running right over to youtube and found the choir there. There were several selections, and I thought they communicated the spirit of the group perfectly well.

    I think one of the virtues of song (can we speak of song in that way?) is that is allows an experience of self-forgetfulness. We spend so much of our time concerned with our selves, and quite rightly so. Still, being “lost in music” can be deeply refreshing. It seems you came home refreshed.

    • agjorgenson says:

      I’m glad you found some of our music. It is so very moving to sing, and I think you are right in pointing to its virtue (good word!) is in taking us outside of ourselves. Hopefully we will soon have some more recent clips available. I’ll keep you posted. They were hoping to get some video from this weekend.

  3. jannatwrites says:

    It sounds like a beautiful trip.

    Your thoughts regarding the bus ride made me remember in high school our marching band traveled to competitions throughout the state. The band members had a special bond that transcended all of our labels outside of band. Cheerleaders, jocks and nerds were simply band members.

    • agjorgenson says:

      That is so very good to hear: that these differences were surmounted at a time in life when kids are especially sensitive to them. As an aside, there is a BBC series on choirs, in which the director starts a choir and brings the gift of music to a broad ranger of people. In a recent edition, it was the British postal service, and the acrimony between management and letter carriers was addressed through song!

  4. dianerivers says:

    This blessing is so beautiful. I feel like by including it in your post, you’ve blessed all of us as well. Thank you.

    And I love the idea of the songs creating a bridge to allow singers and listeners to be “with” each other. A holy idea, indeed.

  5. Marie Taylor says:

    Well done. Travel and song and blessings. Carrying God everywhere.

  6. perrymj says:

    As you may recall, Pete Seeger is one of my favourite singers and social justice activists and brave people. This week I have said to many I feel bereft because of his death. On Sunday I listened to a rebroadcast of his 1995 interview by Michael Enright. He was asked why he encouraged so much singing. He had several reasons for encouraging singing but one of the reasons was when people are busy singing together it is difficult for them not to get along.

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