I have recently joined a Threshold Choir here in my town. Threshold Choirs were started many years ago by a woman, Kate Munger, who discovered the peace and calm of singing by the bedside of a person who was dying. Thus began this worldwide movement of small local choirs that convene for the purpose of learning songs and singing at the bedside of people who are ill and dying. It feels like very holy work. The songs are simple and short and are usually in three part harmony. The singers learn a repertoire, and after learning it, go out in small groups of two or three to sing at the bedside – in a nursing home, hospital, private home, wherever they are called. It is a short visit and a peaceful offering of accompaniment and grace to patients and to families.
Though I am, at this point, far from being ready to sing at someone’s bedside – I have begun to learn so much of the power of entering in quiet, sitting without talking, attending to the person, seeing what is appropriate and needed. I also love the rehearsals where we have the opportunity to learn and sing these very beautiful, very simple songs. They are always sung slowly, and with heart and there are often tears at the rehearsal as we all remember that we too will die, and that before then, there are many experiences of tenderness and difficulty that can be eased by a song.
Click HERE to hear a sample of the kind of songs that are sung by threshold choirs.
If you’d like to know more about Threshold Choirs and find out if there is one in your area, click. HERE.
May you find peace and ease in this month of feasting and celebration. Here’s poem for you;
by Gary Johnson
A little girl is singing for the faithful to come ye
Joyful and triumphant, a song she loves,
And also the partridge in a pear tree
And the golden rings and the turtle doves.
In the dark streets, red lights and green and blue
Where the faithful live, some joyful, sometroubled,
Enduring the cold and also the flu,
Taking the garbage out and keeping thesidewalk shoveled.
Not much triumph going on here—and yet
There is much we do not understand.
And my hopes and fears are met
In this small singer holding onto my hand.
Onward we go, faithfully, into the dark
And are there angels hovering overhead?