Tea & Psalmody
The weather in Aguacate has taken a bit of a dip temperature-wise which has prompted me to increase my hot tea consumption. In doing so, I’ve been reading the inspirational quotes on each of the accompanying tea bag tags used to brew each cup of tea. A recent tag offered the following: First listen, then learn, then practice.
This process mirrors the method we are using to teach the hymnology of the Church within the Mayan communities of Guatemala. As I write this, the choir in Aguacate is currently learning a slower melody of the Communion Hymn Receive Me Today. This is because, thanks be to God, on any given Sunday there are several hundred people prepared to commune, and the quicker melody the choir is accustomed to singing, is just that, too quick!
The teaching process initially includes having the choir listen to me sing the hymn, because the choir isn't familiar with reading music. Next, we learn the hymn by teaching section by section while referring to a copy of the text. Then the choir practices what they’ve learned by repeatedly singing the hymn.
Additionally, choir members use their cellphones to record the practice and refer to it when they are practicing on their own. Depending on what is being learned, this process can take several weeks before the choir feels confident enough to implement and lead in singing the new melody during liturgy.
St. Basil the Great describes psalmody as“bringing about choral singing, a bond, as it were, toward unity, and joining people into a harmonious union of one choir— produces also the greatest of blessings: Love."
Thank you for making it possible for me to serve the dear people of Guatemala in unity and in Christ’s love!
Your fellow servant in the harvest field,