By Jodi Detrick
Aug. 5, 2012
I think Mr. Leslie, my old high school choir director, would be thrilled, and I understand why. It’s not often that I’m inspired after watching the evening news, which usually leaves me somewhere between vaguely uneasy and moderately alarmed. But a segment featured on the Feb. 26 edition of NBC’s Nightly News did just that and also reminded me of something I too easily forget.
The reporter, Kristen Dahlgren, told the story of a “virtual choir” directed by Grammy-winning classical composer Eric Whitacre. It all began three years ago when a 17-year-old from Long Island, N.Y., posted a YouTube message to him, along with her vocals from a piece of classical music.
He said, “It hit me like a lightning bolt. I thought, If I could somehow get 50 people to all learn their parts, and then simply started their videos at the same time, it would have to make a choir, right?”
Whitacre needn’t have worried about getting 50 singers. That first year almost 200 people responded. And the following year, more than 2,000 people sent him their clips. This year, Whitacre’s virtual choir is made up of almost 3,800 members from 73 countries and includes all ages (the youngest is a 10-year-old). And apparently anyone with a computer and the willingness to learn their part can join. No one is turned away.
“If they go to the trouble of learning the music, uploading a video, and joining the choir, then absolutely.” Whitacre says. “And then somehow, when we put it all together, that adds up to make this incredible musical experience.”
The result is stunning. Listening to this virtual choir gave me very real goose bumps and brought tears to my eyes. (You can find the performances on YouTube; search for “Eric Whitacre” or “virtual choir” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW5RovOgon4)
I think what touched me most was seeing all those vocalists, whose videos were set in little individual boxes and lined up choir-like across the screen, singing their hearts out all by themselves from their commonplace environments. It was concert-hall-worthy music, born voice by voice, in ordinary kitchens, bedrooms, offices and dorm rooms around the world.
“Maybe,” I said to my husband, who was equally misty-eyed, “this is a little like what God hears when He looks down at those who love Him and are finding ways to show it, from all around the world.”
Sometimes we can feel that our faith-voice for good is small and isolated. I mean, really — does it make any difference when we choose kind words over angry ones, when we speak the truth instead of a lie on an ordinary day in our kitchens, offices, bedrooms and dorm rooms?
Who hears or cares when we use our lips to honor God and encourage others instead of joining the cacophony of coarseness and cursing that sometimes seems to drown out the sound of peace? When we whisper a trembling-voiced song of praise into a wet pillow on one of those long, worry-filled nights of depression or illness, or after our hearts have been broken by someone we loved and trusted, who listens — who cares?
I have a feeling our audience of One, as someone has rightly called God, hears us clearly and smiles. Not only that, I believe our singular voices blend with others from around the globe to make up a mighty choir whose thundering music resonates with joy into the heavens. Maybe that’s why verses like Psalm 100:1,2 mean so much to Christian believers:
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the Earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” (ESV).
Don’t worry if you don’t have perfect pitch, or if friends say you can’t carry a tune in a bucket. When you join God’s virtual choir and follow Him as the Conductor, when you learn to read the music of life He offers in the Bible, then (whether you realize it or not) you are part a vast worldwide chorale. And this life is only the warm-up for what is to come.
So, you with the barely audible voice, you who feel like you’re out of tune, you who are singing all by yourself through mundane moments in ordinary surroundings — by all means sing on! You’re making beautiful music, and Someone is listening.
This article appeared in the March 10, 2012, edition of The Seattle Times. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
JODI DETRICK is an ordained minister with the Northwest Ministry Network (Assemblies of God). She is also a public speaker, an author and a life coach.
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