Monday, January 16, 2006

Prayer and Music

On the first day of classes I walked in and sat next to two people I know from church. The teacher starts class by saying a word of prayer. I thought, "OK, I know I'm at seminary. Every teacher here is an ordained minister." And then class began.

He started talking about how people think and what brings words alive. He put these words on the overhead...

Angels we have heard on high,
sweetly singing o'er the plains,
and the mountains in reply,
echoing their joyous strains:

Gloria in excelsis deo.
Gloria in excelsis deo.
He told us to read them and we did. Then he said, "Wouldn't it sound better this way?" and proceeded in leading us in song. 4+ part harmony! Pseudo-spontaneous singing in a non-music class. That's great!

It's been so long since I've been a part of something like this. I don't know how to react. Should I be stunned? Should I just sit back and listen?

Throughout the two weeks we sang a lot. Probably 2-3 times per day. A lot of that time I spent listening. I wasn't critiquing (amazing for me). I was enjoying the lack of self-consciousness, the joy, the blase attention to proper technique. All those things contribute to wonderful, spirit-filled moments. That's the sort of thing you cannot get from a choir. Well, not as much as from a group of good non-singers.

Now the prayer before each session... It was different. This is the first non-public school I've been to in the 20-some years of schooling. I don't know what the prayer did for anyone else, but it freed me. I knew that I wasn't learning for the sake of learning, but really I was learning to teach others what I learned, for the sake of spreading knowlege and faith. This is new to me, bear with me. I.. felt that there was something inside that was hungry for what was being fed. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Tomorrow is choir (Schola Cantorum). I've been corrected for calling it choir. I can't wait for my first chapel on Wednesday. I should have gone today, but I guess my laziness over took that thought before I had it.

Update and First Class Over

So, the last time I wrote I was ranting about the Choral Audition, no? Well, here's the past-year-in-a-nutshell:

February 28th 2005, I auditioned for the Master of Sacred Music (MSM) program at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. I found the building at St. Olaf (in Northfield, MN) I needed to get to and walked around until I found the Administrator for the MSM program. She then, thankfully, guided me through the rest of the process.

I was ushered into a room filled with singers. Well, let's not say singers. Let's call them one of the best ensembles around. The sound that they made was beyond extraordinary! I cannot put into words what I felt. Joy, pride, fear, anguish and just before I was done I remembered some advice I received, "Don't forget to have fun. This may be your last time in front of a choir of that calibre, it might not. But DO NOT forget to have fun!" I didn't. I had a ball.

I also had to sing for the crew, Dr. Paul Westermeyer, Dr. Anton Armstrong, Dr. Bob Scholz,
and Dr. John Ferguson. What an assortment! Some of the best musical minds around and I sing for them, then they interview me for 1/2 hour. Yikes!

Anyway, I left there. Heart racing, pulse pounding. A few weeks later I get a letter. Thin. Thin means it's a, "I regret to inform you..." letter. Somehow I assume that it's not. I tear it open. "I got in!" I scream. My fiancee just smiles.

I was scheduled to start J-term 2006. And here I am. I finished my 1 class. A two-week course on Genesis-Revelation. It was great! We followed the story all the way through--in two weeks! Now it's over. I can't wait for my first set of classes to start! That's exciting.

I'll give some intelligent thoughts later, just wanted to fill you in.