Support the Café

Search our Site

An earthly choir: Listening to the (Mormon) voices singing around us

An earthly choir: Listening to the (Mormon) voices singing around us

The Reverend Danielle Tumminio, Episcopal priest and chaplain at the Groton School in Massachusetts, spent an afternoon in the midst of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, after being invited to be a “singing guest” with them after she expressed interested in writing about the ensemble:

My original intention was to describe what it was like to perform with such an elite group. (It was incredible, by the way.) But as I reflected on my experiences, I realized that the real story was the lesson I learned about what it means to be part of God’s creation in our incredibly diverse world.

As Tumminio points out, St. Augustine said that when you sing, you “pray twice.” And she discovered connections with these Mormon musicians as they sang in the way she had learned to sing in an Episcopal cathedral choir: to listen to the voices around you, to blend, to pay attention to your vowels, to sing your part in the music as part of a wider texture made beautiful by its complexity.

That’s when it occurred to me that choirs are really metaphors for life as a person of faith. We encounter so many people who are different than us, who believe different things. But we are all part of God’s creation, all members of a kind of earthly choir. We can certainly use our voice to point to our differences, and sometimes that’s important. Sometimes we need a great soloist whose voice stands out from the crowd. But sometimes we need to listen to the voices around us to notice how we blend and what we share in common.

Because we do share a lot in common, and sometimes we forget that.

As I reflect back on that day of being one small soprano voice in a sea of talented Mormon singers, what remains with me is the way that 361 different individuals united to make a single splendid sound. For a moment, I got to be part of it. I got to glorify God beside hundreds of others who believe things that are different from what I believe.


Image above: the Reverend Danielle Tumminio (Photo credit: Danielle Tumminio by Chion Wolf. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)



Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café