THE SOUNDTRACK OF MY CHILDHOOD By Thomas Putnam
Many infants learn nursery rhymes or a parent's favorite pop song at a very early age. I learned Handel's MESSIAH. And not just the Hallelujah Chorus. I learned it all. It was part of the air in our household. And not just at Christmas time. Pretty much from early October through May I was baptized in the choruses and solos of this great work of art.
My dad was a bass soloist. He was also a choral conductor. So a huge community men's chorus, and a large church choir, and a huge high school choir under his direction all sang portions of MESSIAH. And since he was a soloist, I heard all of bass solos almost as many times as I ate grilled cheese and tomato soup watching Walt Disney on Sunday evenings.
Mom was an alto soloist. She directed a large community women's chorus, taught in elementary schools and was part of weekday music group. Those solos were simply part of the soundtrack of our childhood. How many kids absentmindedly sing “He Shall Feed His Flock” whilst in the bathtub?
I wouldn't change that childhood soundtrack for anything. When the tenor first intoned the words “Comfort Ye” I settled in for musical soulful massage for a few hours. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light” filled me with a sense of mystery that I didn't experience anywhere else. A kid woudn't have to understand or even believe the words in a Christian perspective, but this kid knew that something really great was going on, and much of that something was mystery and an awe of creation. How does a musician come up with this stuff? It's a mystery.
You can experience some of that mystery this Sunday at 2:30 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wellsboro. You can listen or you can sing along on the choruses. You can let the rich voices of MU students sing the solos. You can open yourself up to the joy and strength of community. Bring your infants and toddlers and let them be baptized in this glorious work. “Comfort ye...”