Last night was the Alvin High School Choir Winter Concert. My youngest is a freshman, but is in the varsity choir: YaY for my kid!. The auditorium was decorated nicely, with some projected cutouts of conifer trees shining on the walls adjacent to the stage. On either side of the stage were a couple of Christmas trees decked out in lights, ornaments and ribbons. Behind the risers, there were lights and big ornaments hanging from the bottom of the top curtain.
The auditorium was packed and there was a sense of anticipation. As the lights came down right at 7:30, there was a pause as the choir directors took their places and the accompanist readied her piano. The music began, and from all corners of the room, the choir made a slow processional carrying candles singing “O Come, O Come Emanuel”. That was very impressive. It was also very refreshing to hear the singing of a Christian song, without references to Christ bleeped out. In a public school no less!
The rest of the program was filled with traditional and variations-on-traditional carols and songs. The highlight of the bill, however, was when one of the directors, Mr. J. Gallagher, took center stage and sang “O Holy Night”.
His rendition, from the beginning, was powerful. Everyone in my group later admitted to seeing a similarity to Josh Grobin, the young sensation that all parents, grandparents and refined young folks are enamored with. For good reason. Mr. Gallagher was very reminiscent in his style, vocal quality and power.
As he sang, I noticed that the entire audience was totally silent. Not a sound in the entire hall, save his voice and the piano. He sang the entire song, all verses. The words were like a cool drink of water. Nothing left out. The mention of the world “in sin and error pining”, and
“…His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.”
This song pulls no punches.
We sat there in the dark, a young, powerful baritone basically singing a sermon about the reason for Christmas as the redemption of the world, and I found my eyes welling up. The whole experience was deeply powerful.
At the moment the last chord of the piano was dying out, the crowd exploded in applause and shouts. I am quite sure the sound of hands clapping was amplified by the sound of all the chillbumps colliding on everyone’s spines collectively. I have never been moved so much at a school function, and judging by the thunderous ovation in that room, I suspect many others were moved as well.
Following that song, a couple more perfunctory carols were performed, but the glow that “O Holy Night” left carried the program to its conclusion and beyond.
So Christmas is a LOT closer than it was just a couple of days ago, at least in my mind. Thanks to Alvin High School choir and its excellent directors for that.
Merry Christmas everybody, and listen closely to that song next time you hear it.