The Magic of Singing

“…And the magic of their singing casts a spell.” So goes the line in the Whiffenpoof Song at the heart of Pemi Choral Society’s Spring Concert.

 The song’s theme is as relevant today as it was when the song was written in 1936, on the tail end of the Great Depression, during a time when Community Sings were part of every gathering. Perhaps the appeal of this song that has survived has to do with the message the song carries.

 “Yes, the magic of their singing of the songs we knew so well…” Those songs were all about growing up, falling in love, trying to make good life choices and leave the world a better place than we found it, laments for our failures, and confidence in our dreams.

 The same script prevails today with one exception: the Community Sings happen mostly at special festivals. As Pemi choristers, we have a singing workout for two hours every week with the dynamic and gifted Bob and Margot Swift team. It’s a lot like a runner’s high. Sometimes, we seem to be floating in space on the waves of sound. Every cell feels like it has been flushed out; equilibrium has been established. Unlike a solitary runner’s high, group singing depends on all voices joining together in one grand singer’s high.

 The chorus draws people from all walks of life, all spiritual persuasions, all political and social preferences, all singing abilities, and all ages. Perhaps this rich diversity is what makes singing together such a high. When we can come together, still figuring out what growing up and getting along together with all our differences is all about, we can go out with a confidence that, “Yes, life is good! We have many voices but we are one voice when we sing together.”

 One of the ways we can keep each other well is to sing together at every opportunity. Some people shy away, saying, “Oh, I can’t sing.” Having directed children’s choirs, I quickly learned that, given encouragement and support, every child who came in saying, “I can’t sing,” went out singing.

 Here’s to encouraging everyone’s song because it takes everyone singing together to make that singer’s high that keeps us all healthy!


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