From the Rectory

About ten years ago, Kate and I organised six Saturday afternoon Gospel Choir sessions in the main hall. We had found an American Gospel choir leader who came, and much to my amazement, we formed a twenty strong choir almost straight away! We put a little poster in the foyer, spoke to a few in our choir and hey presto! What a fun experience. It was the first time I had ever learned to sing a cappella in a choir, to move whilst singing and to feel the words sung from my heart and not from a song sheet.

The Gospel choir leader had to return to the USA and so that was that; until yesterday when Emily Bollon, creative director of Motivation by Music, introduced herself and some of her MbM Gospel choir to sing for us at the Summer Fayre. What followed was inspiring. Emily engaged us all, firstly by leading the choir and then by leading us. We sang a round of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Oh When the Saints, and Down by the Riverside.

To grab the attention of folk at a fete and to mobilise an un- amplified choir that not only could be enjoyed but was inspiring enough to join in, was a real taster as to what is possible.

When Rona came to be our Rector, we were looking to her for something special to help us and the community grow spiritually. We’ve seen the changes in Church and to the format of our worship, and it’s awesome! Now Rona has brought us this, or at least God has worked through her to do so. I checked Emily out on YouTube and heard her choir sing some sensational songs she composed , ‘Roar Lion’ and ‘Sun-Kissed Bridge’ She is a real talent, who has already sung at Wembley in a Gospel choir!

Ever since the psalmists, we have been blessed with the idea that we can sing praises to the Lord, we can reach out to Him to heal us, to lift us up, to teach us, to hear us and to protect us. Jesus would have sung what they call the ‘psalms of assent’ as he approached Jerusalem for the festivals. ‘I lift up my eyes to the Hills, from where will my help come? My help comes from the lord who made heaven and Earth’. It says it all in just two lines.

Today, Gospel songs bring the same message in a very wide and inclusive way, the greatness of the lord, how we can praise him and how our faith will pull us through the hardest of situations. Gospel choirs are giving all ages a taste of gathering, and hospitality, and learning and worship. They really can turn a spark into a flame.

The good news is that Emily Bollon is going to extend her Motivation by Music Gospel choir, right here in our Centre, and I think we should get behind her with the project. We could create a forty strong choir from Merrow for Merrow, who will sing for us in church and around Merrow, praising God and inspiring others to join us. Pray for Emily and her success and come along.

Dermot