As a welcome to Songs of Praise at St Francis Church Simon’s Town, conducted by Richard Cock, organist Grant Brasler, the many directors of music, instrumentalists, choristers and musicians, I quoted the following extract from the novel: The Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
These are the words of a young girl as she comes to the close of her school year.
A choir is a beautiful thing
Every time, it’s a miracle. Here are all these people, full of heartache, or hatred or desire, and we all have our troubles and the school year is full of vulgarity and triviality and consequence, and here are all these teachers and kids of every shape and size, and there’s this life we’re struggling through full of shouting and tears and laughter and fights and break-ups and dashed hopes and unexpected luck – it all disappears, just like that, when the choir begins to sing. Everyday life vanishes into song, you are suddenly overcome with a feeling of brotherhood, of deep solidarity, even love, and it diffuses the ugliness of everyday life into a spirit of perfect communion. Even the singer’s faces are transformed… I see human beings surrendering to music.
Every time, it is the same thing, I feel like crying, my throat goes tight and I do the best I can to control myself but sometimes I come close: I can hardly keep myself from sobbing. So when they sing a canon I look down at the ground because it’s just too much emotion at once: it’s too beautiful, and everyone singing together, this marvellous sharing. I am no longer myself, I am just one part of a sublime whole, to which others also belong, and I always wonder at such moments why this cannot be the rule of everyday life, instead of being an exceptional moment, during a choir performance.
When the music stops, everyone applauds, their faces all lit up, the choir radiant. It is so beautiful. P 181
In the end I wonder if the true movement of the world might not be a voice raised in song.