Tag Archives: Men’s Choir

Greece and Cyprus Tour 2011

This afternoon, the Moody Men’s Collegiate Choir boarded their flight for Greece and embarked on a three week summer tour.  While I’m not going with them, my prayers go out for them, and I know that God will use them greatly as they praise Him in churches and other public venues throughout the countries of Greece and Cyprus.  Please pray that they would have the energy that they need to perform their best night after night, and that many people would be encouraged, strengthened, challenged, and perhaps even led to Christ by their ministry, and that they would all come home safely at the end of the tour.

Go do what you do best Men’s Choir.  Enjoy the concerts, the culture, and the incredible scenery, and spread God’s praise everywhere you go.  God bless!

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A Good Day

Have you ever had one of those days when you didn’t have much free time, but you hardly noticed because of all the wonderful things you were doing?  That was my day today.  I got to go to breakfast (something I’m rarely awake enough in the morning to do), and I ran into a friend of mine and had the opportunity to eat with him.  Then I headed off to my three Monday classes, all of which were better than usual today.  Especially notable was Research Writing, in which we’re beginning a two-week examination and discussion of C. S. Lewis’ “Until We Have Faces”, which is an amazing book and an amazing discussion so far.  My 11:00 class was cancelled today just because Dr. Litfin was feeling nice, so I got to go to lunch at a regular time instead of at 2:00 as I do on most Mondays, and I had the chance to finally mail letters to my younger brother and sister.  After my 12:00 class, I headed off to a PCM makeup at Salem Christian School where I got to hang out with my favorite K-4th graders for an hour and a half.  When I got back to campus, it was straight to dinner and then Men’s Choir Rehearsal, and finally, at 7:30, I was finished with my obligations for the day.  It was a long day, and I had a lot to do, but when I sat down at my desk after it was all over I felt more refreshed and energized than when I’d started.  After a long weekend with nothing to do, it felt amazing to be on my feet and running again.  As we begin the headlong rush into the last two weeks of classes, I look back with gratitude and contentment on this past year at school.  Today represents everything that I’ve grown to love about being here, and I thank God for all of the days like it that I’ve had the privilege to experience, and all of the great days that are coming down the road as I move on.

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Cathedral

The choir loft at Wheaton Church consists of three rows of wooden benches along the far back wall of the sanctuary.  From my position in the second row I had a clear view of the gorgeous and expansive room, the understated blue and white furnishings well-lit by the spotlights on the ceiling and the massive skylight in the center of the room.  The pews out on the floor were mostly filled with churchgoers who had arrived for the evening Palm Sunday service, and they looked up at all of us in the Men’s Choir expectantly as our conductor, Doc, turned to face us and raised his arms.  From behind me and a little to the left, the pitch pipe buzzed out an E, the note hanging in the air for a moment while Doc held our gaze to affirm that we’d heard it clearly.  He tilted his head just a little, then lifted his arms and brought them down, leading us into the tune with a confidence that flowed from years of practice.

Of the Father’s love begotten
‘Ere the worlds began to be
He is Alpha and Omega
He the source, the ending He
Of the things that are, that have been
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore 

As we sang together, I felt my voice disappear seamlessly into the others almost before it had slipped from my mouth, and I smiled.  The blend of notes rose up to the peaks of the vaulted skylight, where it vanished into the gently setting sun to make room for the next strains.

Oh ye heights of heaven adore Him
Angel hosts His praises sing
Powers, dominions bow before Him
And extol our God and King
Let no tongue on earth be silent
Every voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore

We’d sung this piece so many times before that the words could have come from my mind into the air unheeded if I’d let them, but I reminded myself to savor them as they rolled out.  As I sang of God’s glory and praise with the men around me, and as I listened to the song echo in the acoustically majestic cathedral where we stood, I felt that this performance was different than the other concerts we’d done before.

Christ to thee, with God the Father
And, oh Holy Ghost, to thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unwearied praises be
Honor, glory, and dominion
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore 

As the final notes drifted away and silence filled the sanctuary, I knew what it was that made this night so special.  The people remained silent, not applauding or acknowledging us at all, and we  sat down.  They weren’t there to hear us, and we weren’t there to perform for them.  We were all there for one purpose: to worship.  As we sat all together and allowed the beauty of the truths that we’d just heard sink into our minds in the sacred silence, I smiled to myself.  Mission accomplished.

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Trailer Tunes

When my brother came up for a visit on Friday, he brought an iTunes gift card with him, so yesterday we picked out some new music together.  My favorite of these new additions to my musical library is the album “Invincible” by Two Steps from Hell.  Now before you write me off as a metal-head I have to explain to you that Two Steps from Hell is not, in fact, a band of loud, screaming guitars and louder, screaming-er people.  Two Steps from Hell is a group of musicians that writes music specifically for use in movie and video game trailers.  Their music is sweeping, orchestral, and extremely exhilirating, and I’ve already listened to most of it several times in the 24 hours since I bought it.  My brain works kind of strangely, in case you hadn’t already noticed, and listening to all of this inspiring trailer music has reminded me of several of my favorite songs that I’ve always thought would make for fitting trailer tunes as well.  Every time I listen to these songs I can’t help but envision a preview for a specific type of movie playing in my head.  I even have the seed of a story idea floating around in my head for one or two of them, and sometimes I mouth the words that the characters would be saying in the trailer or change the speed of my walk to fit the mood and tempo of the music.  This has probably caused more than one person to get more than a little weirded out, but I bet if they were listening to the same music they’d be making strange faces and throwing their hands up in the air at odd intervals, too.  Either that or I’m hopelessly bizarre.  Or both.  Anyway, here’s a list of four songs that I think would make great movie trailers:

1. “RSL 1984” by Newsboys – This dramatic, quasi-autobiographical song from Peter Fuhrler may not seem like trailer music at first, but if you listen through to the chorus you’ll hear what I’m talking about.  When the music slows to a hush and Peter intones, “We rolled out the barrels, boys/and sang with a single voice”, you feel it coming like a tingle in the back of your neck, then the violins and guitars shoot straight through the roof and you’re instantly transported into the preview for a moving, nostalgic drama complete with a coming-of-age vibe and glowing critical reviews in literally glowing letters showing up at regular intervals and a top-down shot of the protagonist beaming and spinning around in the rain, hands outstretched to the sky.  Or maybe you’re just thinking “Weren’t the Newsboys from the 90’s or something?”  If that’s the case, I can’t do anything for you.

2. “The Fatal Wound” by Switchfoot – This song has been on my mind a lot lately.  It’s got a unique sound and feel to it, and it’s quite a haunting blend of minor and major, weary and hopeful.  I can imagine this one being in a trailer for some kind of edgy, serious, and heavily stylized movie that speaks of revenge and redemption and is set in a desert with two chiseled tough guys in the main roles.  For some reason I think the trailer wouldn’t have very much talking in it, it would mostly be grim and artistic shots like a bus driving down a dusty road with the antagonist the lone and brooding passenger or a panning shot from the top of a steeple down through a stained-glass window to focus on the rugged protagonist praying in a pew.  The only reasonable explanation I can think of for this idea is that I thought of it while on spring tour with the men’s choir, so we were pretty much always on a bus or in a church.  Either way, I definitely sized up most of the churches that I walked into while listening to this song with an eye for whether or not they’d look good in the trailer.  Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.

3. “Life in Technicolor ii” by Coldplay – I really shouldn’t have to explain this one.  This song screams “I BELONG IN THE TRAILER TO A CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, TRAGIC-BUT-HEARTWARMING LOVE STORY THAT MAY OR MAY NOT WIN AN OSCAR!”  And yes, it uses all caps.  This particular tune is kind of my baby, because I actually have a bit of a story idea to go with it.  I won’t give everything away here, but it’s very touching and it involves magnets and a parking garage.  That all-caps screaming may or may not have been wishful thinking on my part, my subconscious refuses to confirm or deny that possibility.

4. “Needle and Haystack Life” by Switchfoot – Apparently Switchfoot is good at writing movie trailer music, because the chorus to this song would fit a light-hearted romantic comedy like a glove.  It’s upbeat and perky and uplifting and the lyrics are about as adorable as they come.  I mean really, read this: “In this needle and haystack life/ I’ve found miracles there in your eyes/ It’s no accident we’re here tonight/ We are once in a lifetime alive/ We are once in a lifetime.”  Are you feeling all mushy inside yet?  And if so, have you consulted a doctor about that?  That doesn’t sound good.

So there you have it, four songs that are just begging to be made into movie trailers.  If you work with a movie studio, I’d recommend getting the rights to one or more of these (also, I’m available to discuss the whole “Oscar-winning love story” thing).  If not, just leave a comment with a song that you think would make for a good movie trailer in the comments below, and DFTBA.

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Combo Breaker!

I knew it was going to happen on this tour, and I’m honestly surprised that it didn’t happen sooner.  After all, with spotty Wi-Fi at best on the tour bus and a 50/50 chance of any given guest home having readily available Internet access, it would be nearly impossible to go fourteen days without missing a post.  Still, after we passed the halfway point I was feeling hopeful that I might still be able to fully complete the PostADay 2011 challenge.  Then last night happened.  Last night, all thirty-some-odd of the choir guys stayed in one building, which was a lot of fun, but we were told there was no Wi-Fi.  As it turns out, however, there was one network available, so I turned on my computer and started composing a post.  It took me a long time to decide what to post, and in the end I gave up on writing anything original and was going to link to some videos of my favorite Internet funny man, Julian Smith, but just as I was about to hit the “publish” button, the network shut down and never came back online.  I was one and a half seconds away from keeping the daily post combo alive, but it was not to be.  Come to think of it, my weekly video streak died last week, too.  Apparently being on tour is not good for blogging resolutions.  Oh, well, missing one post and one video out of two and a half months is no big deal, and being on tour with the Men’s Choir is definitely worth the trade off.  Let”s just take a moment of silence for yesterday’s post that never was… then I’ll link you to those Julian Smith videos so we can break the silence with a laugh and get back to having a great Spring Break.  Goodnight, everybody!

Here are two of Julian’s signature goofy music videos:

“Red Eye Flashes Twice”

“I’m Reading a Book”

And here are two of his signature goofy skits, which he does when he’s not making music videos:

“Malk”

“Jump”

There are a lot more hilarious videos where these came from, so check out his channel for more good times.

Also, this:

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Halfway

The Moody Men’s Collegiate Choir performed our seventh concert tonight, and tomorrow is the end of our first week on tour, which means that tonight we are about halfway finished with the 2011 Spring Tour.  So far, it’s been the best experience I’ve had at Moody to date.  All 37-ish of the Men’s Choir men are a riot, and riding on the bus with them is always a great experience.  We’ve explored the Southwest U.S., seen some amazing sights, performed in half a dozen churches, met plenty of wonderful people, and probably spent almost 24 total hours sitting in the tour bus shooting each other with darts and making lame puns.  All of this has, of course, created countless stories, memories, and inside jokes, including (but certainly not limited to) the victory dance and the step of doom, and I couldn’t be enjoying it more.  Tomorrow is our day off, and we’re headed to White Sands National Monument for a while before we make our way to El Paso where we’ll be performing three times at two different churches on Sunday (and did I mention the concert in Las Cruces in between?).  I’m looking forward to both the day of rest and the following day of insane busyness, because every day with the Men’s Choir is a day well worth the effort.  I can’t wait to spend another week on the road with them, and to post my favorite stories here for you, but for now, I need to get to sleep (and no, Mom, I didn’t stay up until 1 AM.  It’s only 10:45  here in New Mexico).  So until tomorrow, have a great night’s sleep and God bless!

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Best Day Ever

The Moody Men’s Collegiate Choir performed a concert in Albuquerque last night, and we had another one planned for tonight, so today we spent most of the day sightseeing.  I got to the church around 9:00 and we set off for Santa Fe.  After a short bus ride, we arrived at the New Mexico capital building and went in to see the rotunda and the Senate chamber.  It turns out that the Senate was set to start their first session of the year at 11:00, so Doc let us stay to see it begin.  What we didn’t find out until a little while later is that he also wandered off and somehow secured permission for us to sing The Star Spangled Banner from the gallery as a part of the official opening ceremony.  We had to wait for a while because the session didn’t really convene until 12:10, but when the time finally came we said the pledge of allegiance with all of the New Mexico senators and then sang the national anthem to kick off the first session of the 50th New Mexico Legislature.

After that, we went out to the Santa Fe town plaza and wandered through a few of the shops. We also got to explore the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.  They have holy water there, but it didn’t really feel that holy.  My friend Robert and I dipped our fingers in and made the sign of the cross anyway because that’s what you’re supposed to do with it.  From there, we went back to Albuquerque and stopped at Christ the King Anglican Church to set up for our concert.  As it turns out, that’s Fernando Ortega’s church.  Yes, the famous Fernando Ortega.  He came to our concert and listened to us sing, and in my opinion it was one of our best performances yet.

On top of all that, today is Saint Patrick’s Day, also known to some as my little brother’s birthday, so I called him while the choir was getting ready in our dressing room and they were all kind enough to sing “Happy Birthday” to him with me.  He really enjoyed it, and I was glad that I could still give him a gift from so far away.  All things considered, this was pretty much one of the most memorable days of my life.  I got to sing for the New Mexico Senate, Fernando Ortega’s church, and my little brother’s birthday all in one day, and I also got to eat cheesecake.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

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