The Women’s Singing Circle has turned five! Who knew that a group formed to provide music for the 2009 St. Mary’s Homecoming would endure, even thrive, this long? We’ve sung at every Homecoming since then; held 60 compline services; produced 2 CDs; performed concerts with Lee Smith, Sheila Kay Adams, and The Gospel Jubilators; been invited as guests at other churches and civic events; and created a song book containing over 100 songs . . . we’ve come a long way baby!! We continue to draw inspiration from the tradition of Sacred Harp- singing, for the most part, without instrumental accompaniment for our own spiritual practice rather than for a listening audience; focusing on spiritually meaningful words while creating powerful music together as a community. Our numbers range from 10 and 20 with membership coming from both within and outside of St. Matthew’s. We meet the last Sunday of the month at 7:00 p.m. in the church. I always feel that I get more out of it than I put in and every one’s presence is a blessing. My deep appreciation goes to co-founder Megan Whitted who shared the leadership of the group with me for so long; and to Cindy Stevens who provides original poetry at each gathering. A shout out to those who participated during those first months and helped form our identity: Dani Black, Marielle Prince, Ebeth Scott-Sinclair, Lise Uyanik, Claire Wright, and the late Cindy Yelton (whom we miss dearly); and especially those who were there from the start and remain active: Karen Ireland, Nancy Rosebaugh, and Ellen Weig. We often end a concert or a gathering with “How Can I Keep from Singing” because it so clearly expresses why we are drawn to sacred song, why singing and praying with others strengthens our own faith, and why a song full of harmony and heart stirs the hearts of others.
My life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the real though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing,
it sounds an echo in my soul; how can I keep from singing?
While though the tempest loudly roars, I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness ‘round me close, songs in then night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I’m clinging.
Since Love is Lord of heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing?