Growing closer while being apart
It's hard being a choir during a pandemic. But God has caused other good things to come out of this season for the Celestial Choir.
The Celestial Choir sings during the 8am English Service. Due to covid-19, the choir has not sung together since March.
What do you do when your main area of service in church relies on being physically together and singing together – activities which are curbed as Singapore tries to battle Covid-19 with safe distancing measures? Choral activity is even seen as a risky activity during this pandemic era; we have seen many stories of choristers spreading the covid-19 virus as they sing together. When these safe distancing measures were announced, the Celestial Choir was left feeling deflated and wondering how our ministry would continue.
The Celestial Choir sings fortnightly at the 8am worship service though we practice weekly. Since our ‘reboot’ at the end of 2012, our little choir has become close but have always found that rehearsals gave us insufficient time for fellowship and prayer because the time was dedicated to practicing our pieces before we rushed about our Sunday activities.
Since April, we began meeting weekly over Zoom at the same time our rehearsals would have taken place, just like many other ministries. Our purpose of meeting together is for bible study, sharing of testimonies and fellowshipping in smaller breakout virtual rooms.
We’ve come to cherish this time together because we never had the luxury of time before to share in each other’s struggles and joys as much as we do now.
One of the topics we covered was John Piper’s newest title, Coronavirus and Christ, which deepened our understanding of suffering, and what God is doing through the pandemic. Collectively, the choir has voted to continue meeting as a LifeGroup regularly, and intends to do so even after things normalise at church.
In the last few months, we have also participated in virtual choir recordings together with the Chancel Choir, the recent Hymn Festival being one of our major events this year. Prior to this, the Celestial Choir attempted its own virtual choir recording in early April, picking up on a pandemic-inspired trend for choirs globally.
Frankly virtual choir recordings are not ideal because a singer sings according to what he or she hears. We are influenced and supported vocally, emotionally and spiritually by the sounds our fellow choristers beside us make, led by a conductor who is shaping the music as we sing.
With virtual choir recordings done at home, guided by only a backing track (in lieu of a conductor), a chorister is suddenly vulnerable.
It’s just me and myself worshipping God and corporate worship happens only in our minds and hearts as we record (and re-record) our voices that will only be combined digitally later. Many of us felt awkward recording our naked voices at first, unable to hide its flaws (behind another singer’s voice!) , unhelped by the lack of rigourous choral practice.
Musically, we were forced to grow in confidence as we surrendered our recordings for editing and combining. The circuit breaker has actually forced us to reevaluate our role in the choir.
Despite the circuit breaker, God provided avenues for worship and fellowship to continue, and the choir has actually grown in knowing each other.
We know that when the choir is finally able to meet again, it will be a challenging time of re-adjustment as we try to rebuild our collective sound. The choral tradition of KKMC would surely not be halted due to a pandemic. That is something we will have to entrust to God’s power and grace.