“All people that on earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.”
Being Easter and with the Illustration Friday theme of “Vocal”, I felt something slightly religious was in order. When we came out to the desert one of the big things I missed was our church community. We first moved to Sydney when I was heavily pregnant with Jonah (son No.1). Finding church a Church that would feel like home was always going to be difficult as “The Sydney Anglican” was a very different cup of tea from “The Canberra/Goulburn Anglican” I had grown up as. But, walking into St Mark’s on that particular Good Friday, I knew we had found our place. One of the things they had which reminded me of being a child in Church was a crazy choir. All choirs I have encountered share similar quirks. They all take themselves a little too seriously. They are all filled with colourful characters. And…faith doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for joining rather a love of singing. My mum and dad love to tell of the choir at a church in Cardiff (UK) where I went as a four year old. When the choir weren’t performing (!!) the Hello mags, Dick Francis novels and knitting would come out of their matching white handbags…until their next choral number!
At St Marks in Sydney they have there own colourful choir characters. There’s the tall fierce alto with the Cleopatra hair and the permanent air of disapproval on her face. She frequently likes to angle her body so she’s not facing the choirmaster conducting, but the congregation - her audience! Further along the aisle, there’s the short round soprano with the “Mrs Who” glasses who likes to tell the organist how to do her job but in her absence plink-plonks through the hymns while holding her breath, afraid of missing the wrong note. Finally, I can’t forget the self-proclaimed atheist who sings baritone with more passion and gusto than the lot of them.
And so, after 34 years of Church going I have discovered that the colourful characters of the church choir are not only “vocal” in their hymn singing but vocal in character. They are not people who are backward in offering their opinions on faith, religion, music, art, politics and people. They are outspoken, outrageous and … well definitely vocal!