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First things first:

CHOIRS ARE RETURNING TO LIVE REHEARSAL AND WORSHIP

Choirs will resume normal schedules beginning in August. Here are the specifics:

Cherubs, Children’s, and Youth Choirs will hold their first rehearsals of the 2021-22 season on Wednesday, August 11. Cherubs (age 3-Kindergarten) rehearse from 6–6:30pm, Children’s Choir (1st-6th Grades) rehearse from 6–6:45pm, and Youth (7th-12th Grades) rehearse from 6:45–7:30pm. Contact JulieAnne Weissberg for information about Children’s and Youth Choirs, and Amanda Osman-Balzell or Kate Jelen for information about the Cherubs.

Handbells will hold their first rehearsal on Tuesday, August 17 at 6:00pm. All ringers will rehearse together at first. We will determine how many groups we can form based upon interest. Contact Julie Hackmann for more information about handbell choirs.

Celebration and Chorale will begin rehearsing on Wednesday, September 1. Both choirs will rehearse together from 7:00–8:00pm on September 1 and 8 in anticipation of singing at our first live services on September 12. We expect two services on that date, and the combined choir will sing at both with brass. We’re going to make it a blowout! On September 15, we will resume the normal schedule: Celebration will rehearse at 6:30 p.m. and Chorale will rehearse at 7:30pm. Starting September 19, Celebration will sing at the first service, and Chorale will sing at the second. Contact David Schildkret for more information about Celebration and Chorale.

IF YOU HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT JOINING A DAYSPRING CHOIR, NOW IS THE TIME! We need you! We are justly proud of the fine music at Dayspring. And because it’s good, sometimes people think you need all kinds of special training and skills to participate—but that isn’t so! We welcome everyone who is dedicated and willing to grow.

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS

Right from the beginning of the pandemic, singing was recognized as an especially powerful way to spread the Coronavirus. As the pandemic progressed and we learned more, we realized that singing is more dangerous than other activities because COVID-19 is primarily spread through the air: an infected person (who may not even show symptoms) exhales virus in tiny moisture droplets; if you inhale these infected droplets, you risk contracting and spreading the disease. Singing (and loud speaking) propels droplets into the air powerfully and at a high rate. Smaller droplets called aerosols are so light that they are barely affected by gravity. They can remain in the air for hours with the potential to spread disease long after the infected person has left the area.

Because singing is a particularly potent way to spread respiratory disease, we need to be extra cautious. We will expect all members of choirs over the age of 12 to be fully vaccinated in order to participate. We will make an exception if you have documentation from a licensed physician saying that you have a medical condition that would make getting a COVID-19 vaccination dangerous for you (this is extremely rare). If you cannot be vaccinated, we will ask you to wear a mask and to remain 10 feet away from others. We will not be asking you to show proof of vaccination—we trust you. If you say you are vaccinated, we believe you (we figure you’ve read Exodus 20:16 and won’t bear false witness).

Celebration and Chorale. We will wear masks at all times for now. Singing is one of the most potent ways of spreading COVID. While I really dislike singing wearing a mask, keeping it on is important. Indeed, it would be a little counter-productive to wear it while coming and going or just sitting, only to take it off while singing. It would be like wearing a football helmet on the sidelines and taking it off to play!

Children and Cherubs. Because children cannot be vaccinated yet, we need to take special precautions here. All unvaccinated persons (including children) should wear masks at Children’s Choir and Cherubs rehearsal, while picking up and dropping off children, and so on. The instructors, who are fully vaccinated, will be wearing masks as a precautionary measure to help protect those of us who are unable to be vaccinated. We encourage others who are vaccinated to do so as well. The children and Cherubs will be distancing—as much as little ones can distance—as will the instructors. We will also provide hand sanitizer at the beginning and end of each rehearsal.

Handbells. Until we assess everyone’s comfort level, we are asking that all members of the handbell choirs wear masks at rehearsal. This is a vigorous activity that has to be carried out in close proximity, so while it may be less risky than singing, there is still the possibility of spread-ing virus.

This is a safety issue. Some people have tried to characterize getting a vaccine or not as a matter of personal freedom and choice. But in the case of people who wish to sing together, it is much more a matter of safety. If you want to participate in a choir and you are eligible for a vaccine, you will need to be vaccinated in order to protect everyone’s health and well-being.

Vaccines are widely available for everyone 12 and older, and they are free. If you haven’t been vaccinated already, do it now!

A WORD OF INSPIRATION

It is so wonderful to be planning a return to live singing in worship, travel, and all the things we have come to recognize mean so much to us. As I anticipated bringing the choirs back together, I was reminded of Psalm 30, which is variously described as “Thanksgiving for recovery from a grave illness” and “A song at the dedication of the temple.” Both descriptions are certainly fitting for the return of the choirs! The last two verses are especially apt:

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

(Psalm 30:11-12, NRSV)

I adapted this text and composed an anthem for choir, brass, and organ that we will rehearse on September 1 and 8 and sing in the worship services on September 12 (along with Parry’s splendid setting of Psalm 122: I was glad when they said unto me, we will go into the house of the Lord!).

Here is the adapted text of Psalm 30:11-12 that we will sing on September 12:

Give thanks to God, give thanks to God forever!

For God has turned lamenting into dancing! O God, you have cast off our mourning and clothed us in gladness that we may sing your praise and not be silent!

Give thanks to God forever! Hallelujah!

~David Schildkret