Captured on camera
In the blink of an eye
Memories take me back
Surrounded by music
I want to stay here forever
Feeling the harmonies
The ebb and flow of
Joyful voices surrounding me
Filled with hope for tomorrow
Lost in a magic sliver of time
When all was right with the world
We were ambassadors
On a mission
Ready to die if needs be
My heart aches for what we lost
On our way from there to here
So many hidden wounds and
Untold secrets and yet
One concert after another
We entered gladly
Into His gates with thanksgiving
And into His courts with praise
Eager and ready for whatever
Tomorrow might bring
This photo was taken in 1962-63. It’s the Ambassador Choir—the concert choir of Columbia Bible College in Columbia, South Carolina (now Columbia International University).
It was D’s senior year, my junior year. He was president of the choir; I served as accompanist to the choir. Mainly piano, and a little organ. D is on the third row from the top, 2nd from the left. I’m on the same row, 3rd from the right (with glasses).
We’re in the college auditorium, in front of the college motto and a huge globe of the world. Many students studied at CBC/CIU because they wanted to be missionaries. Among them were bi-lingual ‘missionary kids’ who came from all over the world.
Bill Supplee, our beloved choir and music director, was a stickler for getting things right. In the photo we’re grouped according to gender and height. However, each concert required a new lineup created by Mr. Supplee. We stood in groups of eight (eight part harmony for many songs), never next to anyone singing our part.
Getting it right meant on pitch, from memory, with no sliding notes or coming in early or hanging on late. Precision mattered. Articulation was paramount. Drawing attention to oneself by swaying or making head motions was absolutely forbidden.
This wasn’t about us, it was about the Gospel. Always presented in a carefully crafted sequence of music. The choir processed from center and side aisles onto the risers. Unison at first, breaking into eight-part harmony at the end. All to invite the congregation into the Lord’s gates with thanksgiving.
Each concert ended with a brief challenge to consider what God might want you to do in response, followed by a glorious recessional. The message was clear, and always well received.
Not clear, however, was how many of us carried hidden, unresolved pain from our childhoods as we processed down the aisles. Today I’m aware of stories I didn’t know then, and have shared my own. Many of our friends are already gone.
Still, I’m no cynic. I value the privilege of having been part of this spirited endeavor. It gave me the privilege of being regularly surrounded and held by music that kept my soul and my spirit alive. And, along the way, gave me the gift of knowing and falling in love with D.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 July 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Gate