The Night of Songs for Christian Unity was a moving experience for the
St Mary of the Angels’ Children’s Choir, says its coordinator Carolyn Seow
ALTHOUGH I was in the midst of a gathering of people from diverse backgrounds, I had never felt such a strong sense of “oneness” before.
It was indeed a beautiful Saturday evening that June 2 at the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer.
The Night of Songs for Christian Unity, initiated by the archdiocese’s Committee for Ecumenical Movement, turned out to be more than just a “night of songs” for me and others.
Together with the adult choir members from the Church of St Ignatius, Barker Road Methodist Church, St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, CSI Immanuel Congregation, the Church of St Mary of the Angels participated with our Children’s Choir.
In early February, Friar Derrick Yap, our spiritual director contacted me in his usual enthusiasm, suggesting that the children could participate in this choral event, and to plan on singing two songs.
After some discussion with our choir mistress, Joycelyn Chng, we decided it was going to be a wonderful experience for the children which would provide another level of experience for them, not only in performance, but more in being a part of the bigger Christian family.
We decided on Sing and Rejoice by Russell Robinson and For the Beauty of the Earth by John Rutter. Both songs, we felt, had lyrics on unity and harmony, reflecting how we, together with the other choirs are gathered to “sing and rejoice” and “lift our voices in song” to God as one.
The children were extremely excited to sing at this event. Ashley Yeo, aged 10, even decided to take part in it rather than attend her younger sister’s birthday party planned for that evening.
Before the start of the concert, a buffet dinner was provided for all who had arrived earlier that evening. Soon after the meal and when all were seated, the programme started promptly at 8pm.
As the evening progressed, the true definition of unity was felt – different leaders and representatives of each church came forward to do the readings and prayers.
Seeing them dressed in their own vestments, it became clear to the children that though we are from different Christian churches, yet there was beautiful harmony in the music and harmony in all people present.
Indeed it was felt in the carefully written prayers and selected scriptures prepared and the choice of songs sung by each choir, such as We Are Many Parts, sung by the choir from the Church of Ignatius.
The audience also joined in singing the hymns they knew.
Though not everyone could understand the Malayalam song sung by the choir of St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, I noticed that the children listened with enjoyment as the song was very melodic.
During the singing, Jovina Dominic, aged seven, from our choir, turned around and proudly declared, “Auntie Carol, this is my language!” To that, we obtained yet another endorsement of unity among us Christian brothers and sisters!
This sentiment was clearly echoed by one of the older choir members, Angela Sulistiani, 14.
“I thought the Night of Songs for Christian Unity was going to be only a night of songs and nothing else. But I was wrong. It turned out to be an interesting night with Christian groups of all ages gathering together and worshipping one God. This is something I would not forget.”
The oldest member of the choir, Carla Mosqueda, 15, added: “The Night of Songs reminded me how music, and in this case singing, could bring different groups of people together as one body.
“It was heartwarming listening to the different hymns being sung by different people of different ages, of different walks of life and even of different spoken languages yet all singing about one same thing.
“Focusing on our similar beliefs instead of differences and creating a sense of unity was indeed uplifting.”