choir updates : announcements : upcoming events
After a solid night of sleep, we awoke Sunday morning to the lovely realization that we did not need to rush to practice. Recording was over! At 1:00 in the afternoon, the now refreshed members of the chorale gathered at the Trinity United Church in Listowel. After a hearty snack, we had our final pre-program meeting. Graham summarized the deep impression God’s power has made on us this week. During sharing time we praised God for healing and claimed his promises for our final program. Because “We’ve Got the Power in the Name of Jesus”, we are going home confident that He will continue His work in each of us. After belting out the ending of “Set Down Servant” for Elliot so he could tune up for the livestream, we met in the basement for final instructions.
The program sailed by with only a few glitches and quite a bit of sweat due to the lack of air conditioning. The testimonies shared by choir members were full of the hope of heaven and the joy that comes with that hope.
The Lichti’s invited the chorale over for an evening pizza party, and only a few regretful members could not attend. Even though I wasn’t there, I’m sure the goodbyes were bittersweet.
We’re going home now, back to different areas of Canada, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Tennessee, and everywhere in between. I know that each of us will carry home the light of Christ that was kindled in our hearts this week, along with all the sweet memories of fellowship.
Have you ever stood at the base of a mountain and wondered how you're going to get to the top? Well, that's what it felt like for the choir today. After recording 6 songs on Friday, we still had 11 to go. There's one thing we know, however, and that is that God is on our side.
After a short devotional and prayer time, we started the climb. Before each song, a prayer was offered to God. We plugged away and to our amazement, a few of the songs we conquered on the first try. This could only be the hand of God on us.
Other songs took some effort. We had to stop a couple of times to ask ourselves if we really believed what we were singing. Do we believe that God is our rock? Do we believe the promises God has given us? Are we willing to lay down this world and take up the cross of Jesus? We pray that God will use this cd for His glory. We thank and praise God for using broken vessels like us. It is because of Him that we sing.
Recording day has arrived! The day started a bit earlier than the others this week. Group photos for the CD were happening this morning so we all met at 8:00 for those. Elliot did a fantastic job of coordinating all 40+ of us to get us all looking at the camera at the same time.
We came back to the church and got ready to start recording, but God had a few other things in store for us first. After Micah shared a bit with us, Graham spent a bit of time talking and sharing his heart. What followed was several hours of much needed connection among the group. We fought against darkness for each other - we had times of confession and times of praise - chains were broken, shame was released, struggles were shared and prayed over. And most of all? The name of JESUS was lifted up! I could feel His presence and no one could deny His work happening in our hearts. We were all reminded again that without the Gospel being real in our hearts, we really have no message to share with anyone. This time that was supposed to be spent recording was instead a time of drawing closer to the Father and being unified as a group. And thatʼs more important than any recording that will ever happen!
Our share time lasted until lunch, so after a quick bite to eat, we came back energized and ready to get started on the recording. We spent a bit of time tweaking things while our recording engineer, Benjamin Good, adjusted all the microphones to his liking. We were finally ready to roll! With Godʼs help and a sense of focus, we were able to get several songs recorded in a short amount of time.
Recording ended at 5:30 and we had about 45 minutes to eat and get ready for our evening concert. We spent a bit of time trying to polish up some of our songs and suddenly it was almost 7:00! We had a pretty full house for our first concert. Even though we felt a bit scattered going into the program, I think we were all excited to share what we've been working on so hard for the last week. There may have been some glaring mistakes, but there were also some amazing moments of worship! Our prayer is that peopleʼs hearts were touched and they walked away challenged to live in complete surrender to Jesus.
Yes, this day didnʼt go as planned, but God knew exactly what He was doing. He had something even more important than recording in store for us, and I am so very grateful to be a part of what Heʼs doing with The Acclamation Chorale!
Weʼve got a big day tomorrow! Voices are starting to feel a bit of strain and the energy doesnʼt come quite as easily, but we know the One who can provide all that we need! Weʼd love to have your prayers!
Our final day of preparation! We are spurred onward by our fearless director, Graham. One thing I appreciate most about his direction is the focus of realizing our dependence on God. We work to learn our pieces and perfect our repertoire, but without the filling of the Holy Spirit, we have no power to convey the message of the songs to those who are listening. The incredible work that God has already done this week is testament to His faithfulness. We continue to ask for strength from God to complete the challenge ahead of us.
This morning, during our devotional time, Dwight Peachey called us to be vessels for God. As clay in the hands of a potter, being broken and remade until it is suitable for his purpose, we must allow ourselves to be formed by God.
With today as our final rehearsal day, we took extra care and time in polishing the rough spots out of our songs. It can become rather mind numbing, working on a plethora of assorted small portions over and over, all the while attempting to keep the phrases from losing all meaning to repetition. Even so, Graham did well in spacing out the detailed practicing with full takes of various songs. By the end of practice, we felt better about many of the songs. It is still intimidating to have recording only a night’s sleep away, and the whole choir has repeatedly felt our need for God as our ultimate director and sustainer.
One of the most remarkable things about most spirituals is the fact that they contain in their passionate music both a story and a message. They can powerfully convey the emotional context of human experience; whether mournful longing, victory, gratefulness, or joy. It's an intimidating and rewarding venture to attempt to understand, and furthermore, to express the entirety of a song.
We continue to ask for God's strength and guidance in our practice. Please pray for healthy voices and energy. Thank you.
Weston & Wynne Hochstetler
Wednesday was another great day for the Chorale. Steven started the day with a challenging devotional that went along well with Davie's from yesterday. He talked about being willing to let God use us as a channel to minister to others. We may often feel weak and insufficient to be used by Him, but He can use us if we are only willing! We need to be broken before Him, laying down our pride. Satan likes to rebrand pride in our lives as other things, and it can often prevent us from being used by God. One of our members sang the song, “Unfailing Father,” during our sharing time. The words are so powerful and hit home to me:
Come broken-hearted, all you who wander
Behold the love of the unfailing Father
Lay down your burdens, lay down your pride
Rest in the peace His love provides
Search no farther
Than the unfailing Father
The first quarter of the day passed quickly without any choral practice. But what happened instead was arguably more valuable. Several of the group shared challenges they were facing, and how God has been speaking to them. The Evil one wants us all to feel dead and unworthy, while God makes us worthy through Jesus! He wants to give us all life! We prayed, sang, and shed tears together. We ended the sharing time with the fitting song, "Let The Heaven Light Shine On Me." In a building that suffocates us from cellular signals, God's light shines through unchallenged and unquestionable.
Not unlike yesterday, today we again saw our need for dependence on God to help us figure out timing in a couple songs. After trying several times unsuccessfully to have the correct timing, Graham led us in prayer, to the One who has a message to share through these songs. And just like yesterday, a short time later, we were thanking God for helping us.
A big shout out to Zion Mennonite Church for providing the lunch for today, it was scrumptious (as all the meals have been!). We enjoy our down time as well for resting, touching up on music, playing table games, and I’m not sure what all…
We have one more day dedicated to practicing our songs before we record Friday & Saturday (and sing before audiences). We still have more wrinkles to iron out, but we are confident our God, our ROCK, will help us!
Please continue to pray for us.