This week, the children are enrolled in a choir camp that's held a the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Benny, Eli, and Jude have been in the choir for a while now, and this year Asher has joined the camp and will start singing with the group in the fall. Joining in the music ministry at our church as been a fruitful one for all of us, really. It has sharpened a certain focus in the life of faith within our family. To hear the boys singing snatches of liturgical music here and there is a blessing. And the scripture that is memorized as they prepare to sing the songs at Mass is just...well it's just wonderful. If I attempted to get them to memorize that much scripture as a homeschool exercise, it would not yield so much. But when Ms. Ray asks them to memorize a Psalm that will be sung, they're all over it.
But really, that is just a tidbit of what being a Saint Paul's Children's Choir family means. This experience is really part of the formation of the children! The following letter (to appear in our bulletin this week), which I am honored to have helped write, says what I mean to share in a more cohesive way:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.
It is our great joy to be singing with you this morning, after a fruitful week of choir camp. The camp was teeming with the life of young people between the ages of 6 and 13, who met each day to worship our Lord together at 9 o’clock Mass. The 28 of us then enjoyed a full day of singing and catechesis, as well as fellowship during lunch and afternoon play. We also visited St. Mary’s Health Care to sing for the elderly residence.
This commitment to worship together through song and learning and prayer all week is really a glimpse at what the children’s choir aims to manifest. The goal is not simply to train children to sing as performers for the pleasure of listeners or for the satisfaction of our egos. We are learning how to let our singing voices rise as prayer to our Heavenly Father, as taught by St. Augustine. We are learning how to hear the Holy Spirit moving about in the life of the Church. Sacred music is the vehicle for all of these, to be sure. But it is not music for music’s sake. The music is a powerful source of catechesis for us, and hopefully can be for you as well. Music is the handmaiden of the Liturgy. Good music can teach us the faith.
In the children’s choir at Saint Paul’s the young people are taught about the beauty of the Mass in its individual parts, and as a whole. We are exposed to the great western treasury of sacred music. We are invited to enter into the discipline and sacrifice involved in being a part of music ministry. We discuss the Scriptures, and pray together. In short, we are being powerfully integrated into the Liturgical and Sacramental Life of the Church through sacred music. This opportunity to grow in faith and devotion is a special one indeed. It is just the sort of experience that will raise up strong Catholic leaders in the church of tomorrow.
When we were baptized, you promised to help raise us in the Faith; we want to thank you for your prayers. We invite you to join us in singing His praises and sharing your faith with us through music.
the Saint Paul's Children's choir
Can you see what a blessing this has been? I hope so. I don't have any pictures just now of the goings on of camp, but I will post some soon. While half of the children are having their first lesson, the other half comes for over an hour of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd-style work. We're studying this Sunday's readings all week, which happens to include the Good Samaritan. It is truly a gift to work with these young people! To work alongside of them as they ponder these great mysteries is such balm for the adult soul. I will have to share some more about CGS sometime as well.
More to come!