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Leaning Straight Up: Transformed by a Song

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My daughter had her Winter Concert tonight at her school, where she plays violin in the Symphony. I went expecting to enjoy myself with another night of the usual Christmas songs. Last year’s concert had some excellent music. I was in for a surprise. The choir opened the show, spread out in the audience, which was an amazing way to really feel a part of the music. And their second song was simply angelic. After opening with Hanukkah Dance, they (still in the audience) began the most amazing performance of Be Thou My Vision I have ever heard. Sung acapella, it was a slice of heaven.

The arrangement, attributed to Chad Reisser, began simply and softly, then gradually moved into more and more complex harmonies. The voices of the students were dead on, and had a purity and clarity that was amazing. I have heard professional choirs perform that song and not come close to tonight’s rendition. It’s just a song you say? Well what struck me as I sat mesmerized, was that so many schools try to take their Christmas programs and secularize/sanitize them in order to preemptively not offend, yet here tonight that correctness was not present.

Leaning Straight Up

DFO: I've highlighted this post from Western Washington friend Leaning Straight Up for two reasons: "Be Thou My Vision" is my all-time favorite hymn. I want it sung at my funeral. The words and Gaelic lilt are moving. Secondly, LSU puts his finger on a sense of loss that I also feel. I don't want to get into a "War on Christmas" thing here. But I miss the old traditional songs at this time of year, sung by school children: "Silent Night," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," "We Three Kings," etc. The secular stuff that has replaced it by and large stinks. 'Tis a shame that we can't overcome difference to enjoy these tunes that were once part of our shared culture.

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Huckleberries Online

D.F. Oliveria started Huckleberries Online on Feb. 16, 2004. Oliveria's Sunday print Huckleberries is a past winner of the national Herb Caen Memorial Column contest.