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In the Event of an Emergency

The Reverend Matt Gaventa
Matthew 18:1-14

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell …

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Why I Sing

Stories from the UPC Chancel Choir

Why I Sing

It is hard to express the feeling when you finally get the note right, the timing is confident, you are immersed in a sea of sound, and the harmony is impeccable. You truly lose yourself, though you are part of the sound. You are part of something larger, greater. Harmony with others, in a simple duet, a choir, band or orchestra, when it is right is not just a great source of satisfaction, but also of energy you give to each other and all who listen.

People say, when they hear a truth spoken, “that just struck a chord in me.” When a string on a piano is played, if there is another piano close by, the same string starts to vibrate and play. I used to teach physics, so I know this to be true. That is the nature of the physical universe we live in. There is a spiritual dimension that is somehow similar, I believe. There is a transfer of energy, joy giving and up lifting, that comes from harmony. Since I first experienced that in childhood, I have been lucky to find good choirs. Good choirs make you better. UPC choir was a little daunting to me at first because I was rusty. The music seemed to challenging. But I was so warmly welcomed! There’s no judgment. If you can sing, you will get better. You can lean on your section leader for a while. Like me, you’ll find you receive more than you give. That’s the nature of God’s universe.

The last and most personal reason to sing in the UPC choir is the people. I now feel I am a part of a special “congregation,” one who serves, side-by-side with some of the most remarkable and wonderful people you can be around: part of the whole UPC, but a special part. And believe me when I tell you, as a would-be musician, there is no better experience than to learn at the feet of a true master, one who almost miraculously brings us together musically to serve the Church.

Thank you, Ara Carapetyan!

– Marcus Corley, Bass I

Why I Sing

 There are so many benefits to singing:

  • It releases endorphins giving you that “runner’s high” or euphoric feeling. Nice!
  • It’s kind of a miraculous thing that the human body can do.
  • You can express yourself
  • It relieves stress
  • Singing in choir gives you the opportunity to make friends/family.
  • If church is really crowded, you have reserved seating.
  • Also, consider that God considers the choir pretty valuable. When battles went down in the Old Testament, God would have the Israelites bring out the singers and praise dancers for battle. Remember the Battle of Jericho? The walls came down with a shout!

Reasons why I sing
There is no one answer for me. Singing is so much a part of who I am. Even when I neglect it or try to put it away in a drawer and hide it, it won’t stay quiet. If I am not careful in that situation, it will burst forth without provocation. When I sing regularly, no matter what is happening in my life, at that moment, I am free. So, there is a famous song by Kirk Franklin and his group at that time known as The Family. They produced one of their very first hits in the early 90s called, “The Reason Why I Sing.” I love that song. The chorus is pretty simple. It says,

“I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eyes are on the sparrow
That’s the reason why I sing
Glory Hallelujah
You’re the reason why I sing”

Why do I sing at UPC?
The simple reason is because I love the hearts, souls, and voices that I get to worship Christ with. I believe that God has gifted me with a voice to sing. Sometimes, I don’t do all I think I should be doing with it. But, I do believe that when I get to sing at UPC, I am using my voice for His Glory doing what he gifted me to do. I don’t have to sing solos all the time. But the privilege and honor of praising Christ with other saints who love him is something that I cherish. Honestly, there is nothing else like it in the world. It is a little taste of heaven on this side. The Bible speaks of a great chorus of people singing and praising God. We get to practice that now. To sing in rhythm and in tune in step in heart and mind and voice with people who also love Jesus is so very awesome. I would highly recommend it.

-Nicole Taylor, soprano


Why I Sing

I don’t recall ever making a decision on the matter. I don’t remember not singing. Before I started elementary school, Mrs. Walker, my Sunday School teacher and the preacher’s wife, asked me to sing in the Christmas program. At the designated time, I stepped up onto the platform. I locked my gaze on my toes. I sang Frosty the Snowman. I don’t remember much else about it.

When I started elementary school, I joined the school choir as soon as I could, third grade, as I recall. Then I was in choir in Jr. High School, High School, and, College. My church growing up didn’t have a children’s choir. I started singing in the church chancel choir while I was in Jr. High. There was then a period I didn’t sing in an organized choir. While on active duty in the service, I didn’t attend church.

Back in Texas a few years later, a beautiful daughter came into our lives. I felt she had to be raised in a church family. When Grannie Fry heard we were going back to church, she scolded me, “God gave you a gift, you have to share it.” So going back to church meant singing in the church choir. I’ve sung in church choirs and community choirs since.

So, I sing because it is very satisfying to be part of a meaningful worship service. I know my singing doesn’t touch anyone in the congregation individually. But I also know most in the congregation are touched by our entire choral effort.

And, I sing because Grannie Fry told me to.

-Jay Brees

Why I Sing

When people thank me for singing in the choir, I always feel a little guilty. You see, I don’t sing in the UPC Chancel Choir for altruistic reasons, but for selfish ones – three of them:

  • Choir practice every Wednesday night is like therapy for me. When I am singing and learning new music, my mind is totally occupied and I am breathing deeply and fully. Suddenly every concern, or deadline, or troubling issue I brought with me into rehearsal just drifts away.
  • Singing in the choir makes the Sunday worship experience even better. I love coming to UPC and always find the sermons, prayers, and liturgy meaningful and inspiring. But following the pastors and the cross in during the processional, leading the congregation in singing, and being in the choir loft during the service just makes the whole experience that much more special because I feel even more a part of it.
  • The music is even better when you are IN it. It is so thrilling for me – one small first alto voice – to be a part of something that is so big and beautiful. Often, when we are singing, I become so wrapped up in the words and the amazing sound all around me, that I am overcome with emotion and can’t even sing.

So don’t “thank” me for singing in the choir. Let me thank you – the congregation – for allowing me to and for supporting our choir ministry through your gifts and pledges.

Mary Dodd 

Come sing with the UPC Chancel Choir!

Call Director of Music Ara Carapetyan at 512-795-8699 or speak with any choir member. The Chancel Choir rehearses Wednesdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday mornings in the chancel at 10:15 a.m. You’ll be most welcome!

Chancel Choir (High School Age and Up)

Led by Director of Music Ara Carapetyan, the choir rehearses downstairs in the Choir Room on Wednesdays from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Performing at the Sunday morning service, the choir is supported by section leaders who are students from the University of Texas at Austin. Music ranges from gospel to classical, a cappella or accompanied by piano or pipe organ. Annual retreats and concerts with local churches and organizations foster strong bonds and special musical opportunities in addition to Sunday worship. Check UPC’s Calendar for up-to-date practice schedules and concerts.