Monday, March 1, 2010

HEAVENLY CHOIRS


Tonight we had our New Beginnings program for Young Women's. It was such a sweet thing to be with the girls in our ward, and to see them step up and do things that might not be completely comfortable for them, but which are nonetheless good for them. I adore all our girls, and am especially moved by our beautiful Laurels, the 16-18 year olds in our church. I love working with them. I have to admit I am a bit exhausted (is it possible to be a bit exhausted?) right now though. I don't know why I feel so much more of the weight of responsibility as president, than I did as an advisor all those years, especially when I know how everything we do is a team effort. I love my calling, mostly because I love the girls and the other leaders with whom I serve, but it does make me tired.

Our church has a lay ministry. We all take turns doing our part, under the Lord's guidance. I've had some really great church callings. Some pretty unusual ones, too. I served for a few years as Relief Society President in the Davis County Jail. That was great. I'll write about that when we get to songs on Pontiac Rocket. I served for three years as Historian of the Bountiful temple. My job was to keep a record of some of the sweet things that happened there. That, by the way, is a sealed journal that is kept in the temple. One of my all time favorite callings was as Primary Chorister. My sister Libby has that job now. We sit in Sacrament Meeting and little kids come up to us, walk right past me, and climb into her lap. They love her. Probably because they know she loves them.

Many years ago, when our kids were little, when I was serving as Jr Primary Chorister, we decided to create a neighborhood Nativity. We wrote a simple script, based of course, on the scriptural account of Jesus' birth. Mostly we dressed the kids up in warm Nativity-like clothes and let them act out the story in the back yard of one of our neighbors. Mostly they told the story through songs. Childrens songs, with a few traditional Carols. We needed a couple songs for a couple places in the story, so Dave Thomas wrote the Inn Keepers song, and I wrote Heavenly Choirs, for the angel choir to sing at the very end.

Every December we rehearsed with the kids in Primary on Sunday mornings. Then on an evening close to Christmas we huddled together as neighbors and grandparents and friends, watching through teary eyes our little ones walking across the snow, pretending it was the desert. We did it in our back yard at the old house for a few years. We did it in the front yard of the current house, too. And in other neighbors' yards. It is a sweet neighborhood tradition, crossing invisible religious lines, and I cherish it.

Each December, when I go in to teach the kids Heavenly Choirs, I get choked up listening to their angelic voices as they pour their hearts into the song. It's a simple tune, and a simple lyric, and they seem to understand it.

Every year my friend Ruth Gatrell encourages me to enter songs in the Utah Composer Guild Contest. Every year I tell her I don’t think so this year. Then every year I give in. I've won the contest a number of times in varying categories, and a few years ago Saints on the Seas won the Grand Prize. One year I entered Heavenly Choirs in the Children's Song category. The judge that year gave this critique:
"What is your scriptural basis for this song? Nowhere in scripture does it say there were children in any angelic choirs."

It didn't win.

O-kay. I didn't mean to falsify anything, or write new scripture, or claim to have any divine inspiration. All I said was that Jesus loves children (I'm pretty sure about this) and that if He got to pick who might sing in His choir He would likely have wanted at least a few little ones. Besides, I made sure to have the caveat..."so I imagine".

Anyway.

This song was on the very first album I ever made. Merlyn and I travelled to Logan and recorded in John Carter's basement a little cassette called Is It Snowing Tonight. The kids who sang on that recording included seven-year-old John Connors, five-year-old Sarah Connors and three year old Kate Connors. Annie was too little. I haven't listened to that recording for years. But I do remember being able to recognize my children's voices when I heard it, and it warms my heart.

We recorded it again for the CD Sleepy Little Town. Annie sang on that one. So did some of the girls who sat, years later, in my class in Young Women’s. They might have grown up. Their voices might have deepened. But they are still, to me, little angels with tinssel halo's standing in the snow , singing this song with all their hearts.

HEAVENLY CHOIRS
G Bm C G
Heavenly choirs must have had children

C G Am D
Singing along when they came to the earth

G Bm C G
Jesus, I know, loves little children

C G D D7 G
So I imagine they sang at his birth


C D G
Halleluia, Halleluia

Em Bm C Dsus D
Had I been there, I would have sung

C D Em
Halleluia, Halleluia

C G D7 G G7
Praise to the Lord, praise to his Son

C G D D7 G
Praise to the Lord, praise to his Son.

Guitar tag: G Bm C G C G Am D G

There you go, even bonus guitar chords. They are placed just perfectly over the lyric where the chord should change, I swear, but when I publish the blog post they get scrunched together. Use your intelligence or instinct to see where the chords change if you want to play this on guitar or piano or, say...banjo. Capo up to a comfortable key.You can hear the song in the green music box below.

12 comments:

  1. this one is a keeper for sure. glad you don't listen to strange people giving stranger advise? you already have heard my voice on that one...seesh!!!! i can't go there right now.

    oh well - glad you didn't listen, glad it is a favorite of like everybody!!! glad you are my sister.

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  2. umm...that was me...auntie libby that commented above...guess nanners was signed into my computer. oops!

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  3. i love heavenly choirs. and i love hearing my own kids sing it from thanksgiving to christmas time.

    loves...

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  4. I remember when a kid in my elementary school class didn't believe me that you had written heavenly choirs. It may have been due to the fact that I was pretty convinced that you wrote silent night too and had told all my classmates.

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  5. Laugh out loud, Annie! You are too funny!
    (Don't we wish we had the royalties...spiritual & $...for Silent Night!)

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  6. This reminds me of the night that I heard you sing live for the first time. It was a relief society Christmas party. Do you remember how I completely lost it? Oh, the tears-I could not shut them off. This song reminds me of that night.
    Oh, and I just requested you as a Facebook friend. How are we not fb friends by now? sheesh!

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  7. Tatiana-
    I DO remember that night. I thought to myself: I MUST get to know this person, because she apparently understands what I mean to say. Little did I know you would become so comfortably a part of our family!
    And, yes, you are confirmed. (FB)

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  8. I wrote a whole Christmas Pageant one year. It was when I was doing my children's albums with Lex, and I was first councilor, and the pres knew about the projects and made me do it. I had the angels dressed in their fathers' white shirts - with tinsel crowns - and Cam wouldn't do it. He was three and he would NOT put on the shirt or wear the halo.

    That judge? I was asked to judge the Utah state novel writing thing one year - you don't know WHO they dredged up to judge your thing. Just goes to show you, the only prize really worth having is the real one.

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  9. Kristen-
    I did not know you had albums! With Lex no less! Where are they, what are they, and what else have you done?

    (ps) teach me how to reply to comments without replying to the whole group of commenters...(HI ANNIE, TATIANA and ASH!)

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  10. i need some audio of this. is it anywhere i can listen to it?

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  11. I received a CD in the mail as a 'thank you' for donating to Help Hospitalized Veterans last year and this beautiful song is on this CD & I have played it over & over. I happened to find it & play it this year & keep singing it all the time as I go about my daily chores!! Thank you so much as it is precious!!

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  12. Hello, is it possible to purchase sheet music for this song?

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