This article first appeared in the August 2015 edition of our parish magazine.
The text for this movement of Brahms‘ requiem was written by Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672) and is taken from the Psalms of David (psalm 84):
|Original Text||English Translation|
|Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen,
meine Seele verlanget und sehnet sich
nach den Vorhöfen des Herren;
Mein Leib und Seele freuet sich
in dem lebendigen Gott.
Wohl denen, die in deinem Hause wohnen,
die loben dich immerdar.
|How lovely are your dwelling places,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the Lord,
my heart and body cry out
to the living God.
Blessed are they that dwell in your house:
they shall praise you continually.
This movement – in fact the whole requiem – was new to me in April 2015. That was when I was first given a copy of the score to sing through. Bizarrely, I immediately felt an affinity with it as I recalled that in one of her early sermons at St Margaret’s, Rev Debby had told us that she wants it sung in full at her funeral. Of course, I might be mistaken there, after all, it was some time ago – in which case, my apologies Debby!
It was my first time singing as part of the Halle Choir Academy, which at the time was a new venture which had been established to develop singers towards readiness to audition for the main Halle Choir. It was an amazing evening. We spent 30 minutes on exercises for vocal technique, 30 minutes sight-singing, and then an hour on “Wie Lieblich…” The time flew by, and all of a sudden it was time to go home. I grinned all the way. I had spent the evening as one of around sixty singers enjoying making music together in one of the Halle’s beautiful rehearsal buildings – the converted church of St Michael’s, Ancoats. It was immensely satisfying to be a part of such wonderful music in a way that solo singers simply cannot achieve.
Since then, the Halle Choir Academy has split into two sections: Halle Academy+ (for those intending to audition for the Halle Choir at some point) and the Halle Academy (for those that simply enjoy singing, regardless of ability, everyone welcome).
Choral singers are incredibly supportive and welcoming folk to be around. Yes, there is friendly banter between the voice sections, but they are there as a collaborative team, to sing collectively with one voice. Many adults believe they cannot sing. This is usually because at some point way back in childhood a thoughtless primary teacher told them not to. This is unforgivable. Almost everyone can sing tunefully, they just need support and encouragement – which is available in any choir. If you like singing, join a choir. If you prefer to be in a small group of friends, give St Margaret’s choir a try – just speak to Geoff (or indeed any of us)* after any Sunday service. If you want your first choral singing experience to be where nobody knows you then try somewhere like the Halle Choir Academy.
Have a listen to “Wie Lieblich Sind Deine Wohnungen” (and follow the score) here.
*UPDATE – At present, St Margaret’s does not have a choir. However, Maggie’s Music Makers is a singing group that meets every Wednesday at 5pm to sing through the hymns for the coming Sunday. During the Sunday services these singers sit in their usual places in the congregation. Come along and join us!