By Jerry Rich
John Rutter (b. 1945) is one of the most-performed and best-loved composers of choral music now living; he is particularly regarded for his sacred music (his joyous Gloria, consoling Requiem, and many beautiful Christmas carols come to mind). When asked about the value of singing in a choir, he said:
Choral music is not one of life’s frills. It goes to the very heart of our humanity, our sense of community, and our souls. When you sing, you express your soul in song; when you get together with a group of other singers, you become more than the sum of those parts. People pouring out their hearts and souls in perfect harmony symbolize what we need when so much of the world is at odds with itself—a model of human beings in harmony—a lesson for our times and for all time.
Musical excellence is important; but even a choir that is not great has a social and communal value. A church or school without a choir is like a body without a soul. Everybody who has sung in a choir tells me that they feel better for doing it. Whatever the cares of the day might be, meeting after a long day to sing lets you leave your troubles at the door. When you’re making music, that’s the only thing that matters at that moment; you walk away refreshed, renewed—and that’s a value that goes just beyond the music itself.
As a musician, I naturally put music at the heart of it; but these other values stand out as a beacon. I think our politicians, our educators, and our budget-makers need to remember that choral music is not a frill. It is like a great oak that rises up from the center of the human race and spreads its branches everywhere. That’s what music does for us; and choral music must stand as one of the supreme examples of it.
As we head into summer, please keep in mind that Trinity’s choir meets every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. to learn an easy anthem for that day’s 10:30 a.m. service. We would love to have you join us!