Praise the LORD
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
That has to be one of my favorite Psalms. It is fairly simple, yet full of praise. This past weekend, all of my family (except young Christoper) got to experience something akin to that Psalm. We went to Baylor University for a Festival of Choirs.
This Festival that we went to was made up of about fifteen church youth choirs from all sorts of denominations. From the start of the school year, our choir has been learning pieces (I think it is nine) to perform together with the other choirs that had learned them for a grand concert. There are numerous festivals held over different states. We went to Alabama last year. I must say that I prefer Baylor over Birmingham. So, after a ton of hard work, our choir took about 80 chorus members to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for one awesome weekend.
Festival lasted from Friday morning (almost everyone was able to get off school) to late Sunday night when we arrived home. There were over eighty of us, so we had two huge tour buses. One for the ladies, and one for the gentleman (that was one of my favorite things about the entire trip, no offense intended to the gentleman of course). The bus rides were full of great fellowship between all of the ladies. I don't know what went on in the guys bus, but I am sure they had just as good a time as we did :) Another great thing about this trip was the amount of parents who went. We had lots of sponsors, so things were kept under good control and went smooth.
Our schedule was pretty tight, with late nights (midnight sometimes...though partly by our choice...) and early mornings (can you say five-o-clock AM??? good grief). Almost all of Saturday was rehearsals. We did have some free time for our lunch hours though, and a short break with Dr. Pepper floats. The cafeteria was pretty nice, though I must say that none of us Arkansans were fond of the water. We also got to see the Baylor Bears. Yes folks, they were real...and asleep. But they were still neat to see. The campus was very nice. They had planted trees here and there, so it made it a little less flat looking. There was still a ton of wind and dust though.
Singing up on the stage was absolutely awesome. There was a 1.5 million dollar organ behind us, a Steinway concert grand in front of us, plus members of the Baylor student orchestra. We had two conductors for the concert. One of them was Randy Edwards, a head member of Youth Cue and a graduate student of Baylor. It was so inspiring to be conducted by someone so young. The energy that went into it was amazing. The 25 year old conductor was also our soprano and alto coach and the accompanist for most of the pieces we sang. We had a ton of fun in rehearsals and learned some new exercises (the tennis ball exercise...). Over all the other choirs were friendly, and we all sang together quite well.
Saturday night we had to follow tradition and eat Mexican food. So we all dressed up a bit and headed to El Chico for some great Mexican food. I am not a huge fan of spicy foods, but the fellowship was great, so that made up for it. I was SO blessed on this trip to get to know a few people better then I knew them before. Our group is so large, so it is hard to know who everyone is. But of all the large groups I have been in, ours has been the most unified. I love that.
On Saturday, another awesome thing happened. Our choir was given the first ever (in 40 something years) award for embracing the youth cue spirit and being what a youth cue choir should be. Our choir director, Pastor Eddie, gave us a group talk about how humbling this is. We are not perfect, this is for certain. But people will now be looking at us to follow our lead. This is just a little scary. But I know that through Christ we can pull together to do the best that we can. Our choir has a key verse that applies here. Colossians 3:17 says this: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." This is what we must strife for, so that we do not lead people astray.
Sunday morning was our earliest morning. Groups of the youth cue choirs went to sing at a pretty Baptist church at two services. Our choir was assigned the early service. It was really neat to sing for everyone at a church we had never been to. Our director really emphasized the fact that the chances were extremely slim that we sing together with that exact group of people for the congregation that we sang for ever again. So we had to do our best to make the best intended impression for Christ upon these people...at eight in the morning. I think it went well.
Later that day was our grand concert. It was amazing. The orchestration on certain songs made it extremely hard for me to not cry during certain parts. It was so awesome praising God while blessing other people with music! After the concert there were hugs, laughter, tears for those not coming back next year, and an over-all uplifted feeling. Things like that give me a lasting spiritual boost. That is another great things about festival...the results aren't as temporary as other things I have done with church. I will remember those exact moments for the rest of my life. God truly blessed that trip. I can't wait until next year!
POST SCRIPT: Pictures are coming soon!!!