On October 6, John Ferguson led a community hymn festival in Woolsey Hall, following on the success of the one held there two years ago. Once again, Marguerite L. Brooks conducted the combined forces of the Yale Camerata, the Heritage Chorale, the Elm City Girls’ Choir, regional church choirs, instrumentalists, and the audience in arrangements of hymns, both new and familiar.
“Hymn festivals unite communities and celebrate the musical heritage of the Church,” says Ferguson. “To join one’s voice with such a large group of singers, whether in the choir or in the audience, is a rare experience indeed. Participation deepens a love of hymns for all who attend, no matter what their denomination.”
Thomas Troeger offered spoken reflections at the festival, and this program note:
The first note of our hymn festival has sounded before we even begin singing. The Bible affirms that music is built into the very nature of things: at the laying of the earth’s cornerstone, “the morning stars sang together,” and the closing Psalms gather to a climax of rhapsodic praise. Music is interwoven into the vital processes that animate us creaturely beings. Our bodies are filled with music:
First find a steady beat.
Your pulsing heart will do.
Mark how the sounds repeat, repeat –
a drum that drums in you.
Then whistle, sing or hum
melodic, flowing lines.
You are a woodwind and a drum
whose music intertwines.
A hymn festival is a time when we claim our identity as creatures fashioned to sing with all that we are in praise of the One who has gifted the world with song:
Through all the varied songs
earth’s many voices raise
hear how the whole creation longs
to sing the artist’s praise
who tunes the world for sound
and sets our hearts to beat,
and with a music more profound
makes all our songs complete.
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