Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Aaronic Priesthood Choir

There he stood, dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and dark conservative tie.
He had just walked into my bedroom, (being that I was laid up in bed from a recent surgery) and said, “Well, I guess I am ready to go now. Do I look okay?”
My heart melted. Did he look okay? I got this huge lump in my throat that stopped me from answering and tears filled my eyes.
“Are you going to cry?” he asked with a huge cheesy smile. There’s something about a mother’s tears that makes my son happy. I think he knows that every time he makes me cry, it’s usually in my most proudest moments.
So he did the most manly thing he could think of. He walked over to the bedside and gave me a knuckle punch, then he hugged me, gave me a kiss good bye and promised to behave. He turned to walk out the door and said, “Oh yeah, I’ll also try to sing really loud--and try to not watch for the TV. cameras. The director said if we watch for ourselves or start to laugh, it looks really bad. I‘m just gonna go and try not to forget the words and hope that if they show me, it‘s at a part where I’m singing good.“ That’s my boy.

This night my son was attending the General Priesthood session of Conference. It was only the second he has ever had the opportunity to attend, being that he just turned twelve last March. What made this night even more special was that for twice a week for the last month and a half he has been going to choir practices learning the verses of four hymns that he would get to sing at the Conference center for the Priesthood session.

Having a difficult time, but refusing to give up, Bryan was unclear which verses would be sung of each hymn In the beginning, he didn‘t know any of the words to the songs, how to read several of them, or even what the words meant. The task to learn everything in time seemed overwhelming for him. So he and I sat together day after day working on memorization and comprehension. We sang together, talked about the songs, sentence by sentence, to gain a more clear understanding of what he was singing to clue him in to what he would sing next and why.

Slowly I heard my son learn to sing the hymns with understanding and conviction as he comprehended what he was singing. I too, gained a greater appreciation for songs I have sung for years but didn’t really take the time to listen to their meaning. What’s more, my son and I memorized all the hymns and all their verses so that he could keep up with the rest of the young men in the choir. It was inspiring for me to watch my son work so hard to accomplish so much in such a little time. It was hard work, but how I loved the time we spent singing together.

Bryan boarded a bus that took the Young Men to the Conference Center at 2:00 in the afternoon. The bus brought him back at 9:30 that night. It was quite a long day. While there, they practiced again and again. On the home front, I kept watching the clock wondering how he was doing. Tradition has it that after the Priesthood session, the men in our family get treated to dinner and on this special night, Bryan got to choose the restaurant. I was anticipating their arrival home. Finally I heard them come in the door and Bryan bounded up the stairs to my room. There he was with his big cheesy grin, “Well, I did it.“ He was so excited about his night. He went on and on about how much fun he had Then I noticed a reverence came over him. His eyes were shinning as he spoke of when the leaders of our Church entered the room. “You could feel Heavenly Father’s Spirit there.“ he told me. What an amazing experience he had had. My heart was filled to overflowing.

Brad found the broadcast on the internet. We all watched while my son sat beside me on the bed. The first sounds I heard took my breath away. Here was this incredible choir of young Priesthood men singing “High On The Mountain Top.” What an impressive sight! Within seconds, there was my own son, singing his heart out., keeping up with those around him. What a grand pay off!

We spent several minutes looking for others in our ward and stake, but when the last number came on, the tears poured down my eyes. (Insert here that Bryan rolled his eyes, said, “Dad, she‘s crying again and got another one of those happy smiles on his face) I just wish I weren’t so inadequate with words, but here were these amazing, handsome young men, the men who hold the Priesthood, singing “Rise Up, O Men Of God“. It was so powerful to me. And there amongst them was my son. Wow. I don‘t have the words to explain the love or the reverence that I felt in that moment as I watched and listened to those young men singing that hymn of praise.

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of Kings.

Rise up, O men of God!
In one united throng.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
Tread where His feet have trod
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!

I grew up in a family where music was an important part of our home. My mother was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle choir for over twenty years. Upon getting cancer one of the first things to go was her singing voice which nearly broke her heart, since she loved to sing to her grand kids so much. I remember clearly after she passed away, Bryan came to me and told me not to be sad. He knew where grandma was.
“Where is she, Bryan?” I asked. I was curious to see what insight he would have for me. “She’s singing with the Heavenly angels” he said. I hope he’s right, because she would LOVE that. And for that night, I really sincerely hope that Heavenly Father let her catch a glimpse of her grandson sitting in those choir seats. She would have loved that too.

So that you too can enjoy hearing this wonderful choir, here is a video of their closing song. Maybe we can see some of our future Church leaders in this group. If not, I still think its a really impressive gathering of young men. :)


Cheri J. Crane said...

An inspiring post, Jeri. And I loved the clip you shared. What a remarkable experience for Bryan and for you.

Jennie said...

Jeri, you made me cry. What a wonderful experience for your son and for you.

Gale Sears said...

That was a thrilling post! Thank you so much for sharing. Your words were filled with love and testimony, and your son sounds like a gem and a wonder! The final song sent chills down my spine.
Thank you!

Stephanie Black said...

What a powerful story, Jeri! I'm so glad he was able to have such an amazing experience!

Susan Corpany said...

I hear you, mom! I remember meeting your sweet son when I stayed in your home when I spoke to your Relief Society. That was an awesome post. And because of what you wrote, I noticed the one blond kid looking at the camera and then getting a little smile as he realized he was on camera. Too funny.