25th Anniversary Season!:  2011-2012 school year 
 
           Fr. Bede Camera OSB, Director
           Mr. Robert Aldrich '01, Assistant to the Director
           Brother Andrew Thornton OSB, Mrs. Abagail Velez     Accompanists
         
             

 

Senior Farewells (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010)
Speeches given by seniors at our March concerts

April 2010: Catherine Beinke '10

When I found Bobby’s sticky note so cleverly placed inside a piece of music, saying “TOP SECRET:  start thinking about ideas for your senior farewell speech”  the wheels in my mind immediately started spinning.  I thought about what previous seniors had discussed in their speeches, and once Bobby told me I had free reign to talk about whatever I wanted, I began to think about what I really wanted to say, not what people would necessarily expect me to say.  That’s when I set a goal, something I wanted to accomplish through the speech.  More than anything else, I wanted all of you to leave with something, something that would be useful and meaningful to everyone.  Tonight, I hope you leave feeling impacted by the power of this music, and that you feel a sense of unity among all of us as together we share in this common experience.

I want to try something with all of you.  So just bear with me J  You might feel a little silly at first, but just trust me!  Close your eyes.  Imagine yourself  in a place of your choice where comfort, peacefulness, and joy surround you like a gentle cool breeze on a warm summer day.  Feel the breeze pass by you and through you.  Experience the feeling of the breeze blowing your hair back and the sound of the wind as it rustles through the trees as if it’s almost whispering.  Take a nice, deep breath and enjoy the moment of stillness that you feel as everything stops around you- all the fear, the worry, the demands, everything is frozen in time.  You are in the moment and nothing can distract you.  Feel a smile building- just let it happen and then slowly open your eyes.           

            What you hopefully just experienced is what I experience and what I’m sure other choir members also experience when we sing the songs that Fr. Bede and Bobby choose for Mass and Concerts.  Of course this feeling doesn’t come forth automatically.  It arises once a song is learned and we begin to fully understand and appreciate the lyrics, and then feel the emotions waiting to burst forth from each song.  This is when I believe we are filled with God’s presence- in this incredible stillness and joy.   

            If you do a google search for inspirational quotes about music, you will find pages upon pages of results.  Here is one that I found that I feel really captures the power behind music, especially the music we sing here in the choir.  “Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.”  Music is a gift from God with incredible healing powers for those singing the music as well as those listening to the music.   

            A wise monk once told me- “God gives each of us gifts.  Learn to accept the gifts and use them.”  Thank you Fr. Bede!  Tonight we share with you the gift of music, which we have been blessed enough to have been given.  Listen to the beauty and the praise in the lyrics, let the melodies and harmonies soothe your soul.  Let the power overwhelm and overtake you, and you will be changed for the better.  Then I ask this of you- let the beauty of the music transfer over into your lives.  Live more peaceably, with more joy, more hope, more steadfast faith, more trust in our Lord and each other, and of course, with more love.   

So as you all leave tonight, I’m going to give each and everyone of you a challenge.  Find something, anything, in any or all of the songs - that you can carry out in your life.  It could be having more patience, loving more, or something as simple as listening to music more-  whatever you’d like.  In doing this, I can guarantee that you will enrich the lives of others, as well as your own life.  I have been given so much, and my life has been enhanced in so many ways because of the power I find in the music we sing.  It is my hope tonight, as I say farewell to a wonderful four years here, that you too can experience even a glimpse of what we all have experienced and can love choir as much as we do. 

            Choir is more than simply learning pieces and singing them.  Choir is a breadth of friendship, support, fun, and love.  I started choir not knowing a soul, and now some of my best friends are choir members.  Some of my favorite memories from Saint A’s have been memories with the choir.  I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in both Eurochoir trips.  For those of you who don’t know, the choir takes a trip to Europe every two years and performs in various churches and cathedrals over spring break.  When I was a sophomore we went to Hungary, Austria, and Switzerland where I was able to enter and sing in some of the most breathtakingly beautiful churches I have ever seen.  This past year we went to Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.  I will never forget the enormous joy I felt in these churches- I highly suggest visiting some of them!  See Bobby afterwards if you’d like a list.  Also, If you’d like to donate to the next trip, see Father Bede, and he will be overwhelmingly excited!! J  Sorry, I just had to throw that shameless plug in there. 

I will never forget the friendships that I’ve made and enhanced on these trips and in attending choir rehearsal Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday nights.  I actually feel a void if I am unable to attend a choir practice, or if we do not have practice.  At choir I get to see my friends, and together we get to share our passion for singing.  Choir is also my stress reliever- I can walk into rehearsal in and awful mood and leave feeling rejuvenated and cleansed.  Choir is the one place where we can forget all our worries and our burdens and just do something that we love.

I will also never forget all the laughs that Bobby and the rest of us have had watching and listening to Father Bede.  One of his funniest moments was when we were practicing for this concert and Father Bede was bouncing around throwing up his hands and the front panel of his habit just to get us to laugh and to bring up the energy of the song.  I will also always remember his uncanny ability to calm us all down through his meditations- one of the favorite parts of choir.  His ability to bring all our pieces to life will never cease to amaze me, and his words of wisdom will stay with me forever.  I will always be thankful for his unyielding dedication to the choir, and for his constant encouragement.  I will miss Brother Andrew and Don Cox always being there to accompany us- always impressing us with their amazing ability to bring the music to life.  I will miss joking with Bobby, listening to him poke fun at Father Bede, and singing next to him.  I’m so glad that even though he graduated a long time ago, that he’s still here!  Without him, who would plan all of our trips to Europe, or more importantly keep Father Bede in line??  I’d like to express my endless thanks to Father Bede, Bobby, Don Cox, and Brother Andrew for all that they do for us.  We wouldn’t be the same choir without each and everyone one of them.  (clap for them) 

Thank you also to everyone in the choir.  You are all beautiful people and I’m privileged to have you all in my life.  I will miss you all dearly and I wish nothing but the best for you.  Continue to sing beautifully- I know you will.  I cannot wait to come back and experience your incredible talent.  I consider you to be my family, a place where I truly belong, and I cannot thank you enough for that. 

To all of you here tonight, thank you for supporting our music, and I hope that you have enjoyed the music thus far, and will continue to enjoy the rest of the music.   

Finally, I’d like to extend a special thanks to the seniors- I’ve loved growing with you over the four years.  I’ve also loved being able to experience two Europe trips with some of you.  Thank you so much for all of your support, encouragement, acceptance, and love- I would not be the same person with out you all.  I will remember all the laughs, the good times, everything, as I hope you do.  Tonight is a bittersweet night for us, but as we leave, let’s not dwell on the goodbye, but instead remember all the wonderful memories we’ve made, all the amazing friends we’ve made, how our lives have been touched, and all the lives that we have touched.  I wish you all the best of luck for the future.  I hope you all keep singing and never lose your love for music.

And now, if you’ll let me, I’d like to end with a prayer.  Lord, thank you for bringing us together this night to sing your praises and to share your word.  Thank you for giving us the gift of music, and for allowing us to share you with others through our music.  May you keep us all in your steadfast love and watch over us as we depart tonight, and in all the days to come.  And Lord, I’d like to thank you for Father Bede, Bobby, Don Cox, Brother Andrew, all the choir members, my family and friends, and everyone here tonight.  Thank you for gracing my life with so many wonderful people.  Spread your everlasting love to all here tonight and let us leave filled with your presence.  In your holy name we pray, AMEN.   

Thank you , and safe travels for all!

 

 

April 2009: Catherine Strazdins '09

“Seven Years”

 

Good evening, my name is Catherine; I’m a senior and I have experienced seven years of this choir.
Now, as hard as St. A’s may be, I’m not on the seven year plan (yet).  (Nor am I an ’01 grad who just can’t seem to leave.)  As a freshman, I learned from the three years of choir members older than me.  As a senior, I’m trying to teach the three years below me.  And I’ve made the journey here with my fellow seniors.  In that sense, I have experienced seven years of this choir.

During our time in choir, I think every choir member, past and present, can attest to something that never surprises us: Fr. Bede’s emails. 

These e-mails usually contain the same categorically understood message: be on time.  On occasion, in those emails, Fr. Bede will include a quote, and, I hate to say it, it can often go overlooked.  However, a few months ago, Fr. Bede included one that struck me and I hope that it will strike you all in the same way.  The quote was from Howard Thurman, who said, “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 

This choir makes me come alive. In many ways, it makes us all come alive. 

I never thought that I would ever get so much out of being a part of choir and I’m sure that Fr. Bede and Bobby thought I wouldn’t get much out of it either!  For almost three years, choir was something I went to, but it was never anything more than that at times.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed going to choir, but mostly because it was another chance to goof around with my friends.  I never stopped talking and I, along with my “cohort of distractors,” as Fr. Bede so lovingly put it, constantly disrupted practice for no real purpose.  Yes, I drove Fr. Bede and Bobby absolutely crazy

For me, I had been in choir so long that it was hard to see the difference it was having upon my life.  I needed some perspective.  The spring of my junior year, I studied abroad in England.  As the weeks flew by, I realized that I missed my friends in choir; I missed our random outbursts of the college anthem walking past the monastery—at 11pm.  I missed our quick “chat sessions” right before choir when were supposed to be getting our folders.  I missed hassling the tenors.  

I soon realized that what I missed weren’t all the stories, the jokes and the time with the choir outside the church walls—I missed choir itself—the experience as a whole.  While in London, I caught myself singing harmonies to familiar pieces during mass.  I realized that I actually knew how to sing a Gregorian chant—something that I never realized I was capable of.  I realized I missed taking an hour out of my day to separate myself from my academics.  It was when I was able to surprise the choir—by meeting up with them during their European concert tour in Hungary—that I began to comprehend the breadth and depth of the choir’s impact upon my life. 

This is just my story, however. Each one of us has a different and equally as rich of a story behind why we joined choir.  Many sung in choir in high school and wished to continue it in college.  Others sang in their home parish where music ministry was already part of their lives.  And others had not sung since sixth grade and were guilt tripped into auditioning by two friends.  But the reason why we joined choir is not the point.   The real question is why we’ve stayed.   

Choir is not easy, that is also another categorically understood message.  Aside from the time commitment, choir challenges your ability to listen, your patience, your dedication, and your ability to get in the coffee shop line at a decent time.  But we’re all still here.  Each one of us has a unique choir experience but our similarities have kept us together through the years.  

Some people have said that when you graduate, you will no longer be a part of this choir.  I really believe that’s not true.  You will always have a home here; you will always have the seven years of choir members you know to turn to.  From day one, I was immediately embraced into a community of people united in Christ through a common passion.  Choir made Saint A’s my home that day, and this choir became a very real family for me.  Concerts are like a family reunion—you may not know everyone, but everyone has something in common.   

At Saint Anselm College, we are all affected by the Benedictine tradition.  I will never forget a recent session of Theology on Tap, when four of our monks were asked what they enjoy most about being a monk.  Without hesitation, they all responded quite simply, ‘balance.’ 

Balance.

 Choir is balance.  We have learned that choir is prayer and work through song.  It is laughter (at Fr. Bede’s crazy faces) and silence (in his meditations).  It is fear (of a new song) and faith (in knowing you have 65 others to back you up).  And in the same sense, though we finish tonight with A Song of Parting, and we may find it difficult to actually part from the choir, we go out with joy.  Indeed, the song You Shall Go Out With Joy encapsulates everything we’ve been working towards.  It begins quietly, in meditation and in simplicity, and ends quite triumphantly—much like our four years in choir. 

Many of our choir alumni are here tonight.  Many others are not.  But present or not, current choir members or alumni, I will always remember you as my family at Saint Anselm, and I can’t think of a higher compliment I can give.

You’re right.  These years did go by too fast.  But I hope that you’ve enjoyed every minute of them.  No words can express the gratitude we all share for family and friends who’ve supported us through the years, and especially, Don Cox, Br. Andrew, Bobby, and Fr. Bede.  You’ve all had a great impact on all of our lives here at Saint Anselm.  Thank you.  So, as we conclude this, and for some of us, our last concert, I, as Fr. Bede always does in his emails, will leave you with a quote: “Restore your soul, in mercy and in truth.  You shall go out with joy.”

Thank you all and God bless.

 

 

March 2008: Gregory Macksoud '08

Good Evening, my name is Greg Macksoud.  In the next several minutes I will attempt to give you a glimpse of Choir.  Like so many have done before me and countless more will carry on, I stand here tonight, a testament to the wonders of this experience.  In the past, senior farewells have been directed at the audience, while the Choir remained in their stalls.   I am honored with the distinction tonight of being able to face my fellow members.  And although they’re not behind me right now, I feel grateful that they’ve been there these past four years.  Tonight I’ll tell you what Choir has meant for me during that time.  s

When thinking about what encompasses Choir, many things come to mind.  Farm parties (an orientation of sorts for new members), visiting Europe and Father Bede’s "short and rarely sent" emails are just a few of those things.  But those wondrous events aside...Choir...for the most part revolves around time spent inside these church walls.

 It is a unique experience in which each individual benefits in his or her own way, all the while participating in the collective gain of the Choir, hence, making my speech simply a glimpse.  Belonging to THIS group provides a foundation, a structure upon which one could and usually does find a certain comfort right from the beginning. 

I joined Choir apprehensively.  As a musically interested freshman who couldn't read a lick of music...Choir...and Father Bede appeared rather daunting.  Despite these initial fears and after some more thought and a friend's encouragement, I found myself here, practicing in the stalls behind me.  And while my ability to read music has remained rather stagnant, my involvement in Choir, among other groups on campus, has proved to be the most rewarding.

 When applying to college, I was wrestling with a lot of questions, the most important of which revolved around my faith. 

I remember writing on my St. A's application that I wanted to go here in order to strengthen that faith, and be provided with a nurturing environment enabling that faith to grow.  Above all else...choir has done this for me.

            My personal journey in choir embodies my growing appreciation and realization of my faith, particularly through prayer.  Prayer was never something I was drawn towards or did often until joining Choir.  Singing these past four years every Monday, Wednesday and Sunday night has strengthened my prayer life.  I have learned that the songs we sing are prayers.  That when I find myself not knowing what or how to pray, I can return to repeating lyrics learned in Choir. 

             I especially like the times before concerts when Father Bede has us seated with our eyes closed.  He runs through the list of the songs we'll be singing that night and invites us to call to mind a person to whom that song will be dedicated. 

             Offering up a song is one of the many things that the Choir encounters as a group, but experiences individually.  I'm sure many of you sitting out there tonight had songs offered up for you before the program began.  The sense of prayer and belief I've found in choir has yielded a sturdy base upon which I can grow and always come back to in later life.  I think anyone who enjoys music can understand this sense of awareness and comfort that prayer through song can bring.  This might also explain the large number of people who continually wish to participate in Choir.

              Though Choir is a personal experience, it is also about the collective and most notably the sound of that collective.  The hard work and commitment that each Choir member puts in is present in every song that you hear.  It is extremely gratifying after many hours of practice to feel chills at the completion of a chord or to have a smile forced out of you when singing a favorite song.  The sound of the Choir is a wonderful stress reliever and incredibly uplifting. 

               I say this with authority, after hearing time and time again from people who have heard this sound tell of its HEALING CAPABILITIES, its MEDITATIVE SPIRIT and its PRAYERFUL STRUCTURE.  I invite all of you to call these things into mind as we complete our concert tonight.  As you listen to the last two songs, entitled "Thou Hidden Love of God" and the "Hallelujah Chorus" call to mind someone in prayer.

             Before I conclude, here is some advice to my fellow choir members.  As Father Bede has said many times: "God is an artist and artists love other artists.”  My advice is this: KEEP SINGING; use this gift and all the others that God has given you in wherever life takes you.  There is no greater praise we can give God than to use our talents for his praise and glory.  I also believe there are few better pleasures than coming to the realization that you've done just that.  I experienced this first hand on a Spring Break Alternative trip last year. 

While volunteering in Mississippi, my SBA group attended a mass for which there was no music...ever.  Several of the Choir members were on this trip with me and we offered to sing an opening and closing hymn.  We sang, "I Love You Lord" and "Amazing Grace," two of my favorite pieces.  To see the pleasure and gratitude on so many faces brought upon by the simple use of a gift we'd be given was inexplicable.

             I have enormous gratitude to all of you who have made my time in choir so enriching and unforgettable.  Don Cox, Br. Andrew, Bobby, Father Bede…know tonight how grateful one can be to the experience you provide.  To the students in choir whom I'm privileged to call my friends, especially the 24 other seniors that also complete their journey tonight...you will live in my heart for a long time.  Without your sacrifice, without your hard work and devotion to the music and without your voices harmonizing praise to the God we believe in, this college experience would have never been so fulfilling.  Thank you all…

 

 

March 2005: Edward "Teddy" Howland '05

For the past four years, I’ve sat in the choir stalls behind me, right there, in the front row of the tenor section. I’ve participated in one European concert tour, eight concerts, one hundred Masses and three hundred hours of rehearsal. Give or take a few. The effect: Priceless. Although these figures give an approximation of what choir does, they cannot come close to relating what choir is.

What is choir? You could ask this question to any of the current students or alumni of the choir, and you would get a different answer. Choir is an intensely personal experience; you get out of it what you put into it. My own experience with choir has been a journey of four years. Like many of the people sitting behind me, I got a letter from a ‘Fr. Bede’ in the middle of the summer, telling me all about choir. I had done chorus in high school, and knew that I wanted to continue singing on a weekly basis. I was excited also because that spring the choir was going to Europe for the first time. August rolled around, and I came to St. A’s for orientation. I met Fr. Bede. That experience, like choir, is something that each student has a very different impression of. During orientation, he gave me a very valuable piece of advice. Here it is. (Hold up I.D.) Most of you can’t see my I.D. card, but I looked like this. Long hair, pudgy, in a word, cannon fodder for the fast paced and ruthless environment of college. Fr. Bede’s piece of advice were these words “Do you trust me?” “Um...yes?” At this point I was looking at Fr. Bede a little askance. “Get a haircut.” These words for me represent choir. Needless to say, I did, in October of my freshman year.

Getting a haircut was about change and discovery; not simply continuing that which you had done in high school, but a new look, uncovering and coming to an understanding about who I was going to become. As singers in a choir we struggle to uncover the meaning of a text and a piece, and work to communicate that meaning to the congregation or audience. Choir is about the development from the first day that we hear a piece to the last note of the final performance of that same piece. The journey that I have taken has been wonderful. There are pieces of music that I start out loving, and end up being ‘blah’ about, reversely, there are works that I have a hard time liking, and then suddenly they click. For me, the feeling of a piece working is the greatest in choir because you know in your gut that the audience will get what you’re trying to convey. And each note builds on the last until you don’t want the piece to end; no one does.

 

One of my favorite moments in choir is when Fr. Bede gives us a meditation. We close our eyes, follow our breathing, and relax from the stresses outside the church walls. It is in many ways the essence of the choir experience. We are both united by our common actions, and yet each of us experiences these meditations differently. These meditations are wonderful because they give me the opportunity to not only reflect on myself, my day, how I’m feeling, giving my mind a check up, but also on the music we’re performing.

I’ve entitled this farewell “Oh God Behold Your Family Here” because at its heart I believe the choir is a family. We are brothers and sisters on a musical journey towards understanding God. Without God, we would not have a purpose here; without any of us, the music would falter; however it would not fail, as even one voice can sing praise, but it would not represent the fullness of what we can produce together. We laugh together, at some of the ridiculously funny things that Fr. Bede makes us do for warm-ups, we sing together, forming harmonies and soaring over the lyrics, and we cry together. Well, okay, maybe that’s just me. How many of you here tonight are former members of the choir? Raise your hands up nice and high. The rest of you look around. These are our extended family; always welcome at reunions, but they’ve moved too far away to be part of our regular gatherings.

The choir has been a big part of my life these past four years. I’ve gotten hundreds of e-mails, sang thousands of notes, laughed a lot, experienced the power of music and most importantly, made some friends along the way. As I go out into the world post-choir and post-St. A’s, I’ll obviously no longer be a part of the choir. But through the music that we’ve made here tonight, and on nights like this, with the help of technology, I will be able to recreate the wonderful feelings that I’ve had throughout my four years.

It’s been a long road, and this journey is coming to an end. Many thanks to Fr. Bede, Bobby, Br. Andrew and everyone who makes choir possible. There will be other journeys, but none quite like this one. Goodnight, and God Bless.

 

March, 2004: Michael Henessy '04

 

            For the last 4 years, every Monday, Wednesday and Sunday night seemed a little bit different to me than other nights of the week. For the last 4 years there were 2 short hours on Family Weekend that seemed a little different than any other hour in that weekend. For the last 4 years, there was a Saturday night in December and a Saturday night in March that seemed a little bit different to me than other Saturday nights. I needed these moments; they sustained me. They made my college experience here at St. Anselm complete. I honestly cannot imagine what these past 4 years would have been like without the presence of this Choir in my life. It is an experience that is difficult to explain, though I am sure that many of us here have had similar experiences. It is an experience that is difficult to explain, but most of the students sitting peacefully behind me tonight have an idea what I mean. If they don’t, they eventually will. It is an experience that is difficult to explain, but necessary to tell.

            Over the course of the past few years, I have been asked a few times by various people why I joined choir. It is a story that I enjoy to tell. Before I begin this story though, it is important to understand that before I came to college, I would never have been considered the “choir” type. Sure, I enjoyed music and I played music but never would I consider joining a chorus or a choir. That just wasn’t my thing. I didn’t really sing at all. I had nothing against it; it was just something that I stayed away from. I had no intention whatsoever of singing when I got to college. Again, it just wasn’t my thing.

            The summer before I was a freshman I got a few packages from Fr. Bede, containing CDs of recent choir performances. This honestly puzzled me: I had no clue who Fr. Bede was, how Fr. Bede got my name and why he would ever think I would join something like the College Choir. I put these CDs aside with the plastic wrap still on them, thinking to myself, “there’s no need to listen to these”. I didn’t think about the choir again for the rest of the summer.

            As many current and former students know, orientation weekend can be a very draining experience with many highs and lows. For most, the weekend does not ease the very normal feelings of confusion and nervousness, it just adds to it. The same was the case for me. I was ready to take on college; ready for all the challenges I would meet in the coming years and ready to enhance my upcoming experience by joining various clubs and organizations: one of which, by the way, was not choir. Then I really don’t know what happened. I remember going to the freshman activities fair in Cushing with my parents. I remember seeing one familiar name of an organization. I remember seeing Fr. Bede and mentioning to him that I got his CD’s over the summer. I remember his eyes lighting up when I told him I was a tenor. I remember telling myself “Just try it out, see what you think, you can always leave if you don’t like it”. Back then, Fr. Bede had us sing at our orientation Mass, something I was very nervous about doing but something I forced myself to do; this was just one of these challenges that I was prepared to meet. I had no clue what I was doing: I had never sung a piece of choir music before, I had never been in this very different church before and here I was, singing with this group before hundreds of my fellow freshmen and their families. And then something happened; it all started making sense. As I was making a feeble attempt to sing this beautiful music, I felt like I belonged to something. I knew that not many of these freshmen could experience what I was feeling, and believe me, it felt very nice. Though I had just been singing with the group for a few minutes, for the first time I felt like I needed choir in my life. The trial period was over; I knew then choir would be a permanent part of my college years.

            For many of us students, our freshman year is the toughest. That certainly was the case for me. While I spent those months adjusting to my new life as a college student, I could always depend on my Monday, Wednesday and Sunday nights to keep me going. I needed choir my freshman year. It gave me a few hours of peace in a whirlwind year and security in a new hectic life.

            Though I became more adjusted and comfortable here my sophomore and junior years, I still needed choir in my life. As college students, we all have those weeks that stretch us so far that we feel like we want to give up. My Monday, Wednesday and Sunday nights sitting in these choir stalls saved me from those feelings. Those short hours became, as Fr. Bede often referred to them, as “islands of peace”. Though at times my life as a student became stressful and straining, my life as a person was being strengthened spiritually by the graces given to me this choir.

            As a senior, I have been able to reflect on these past four years as a student at this college and as a member of this choir. I am a better person today because of the education I have received and the life lessons I have experienced at this college. I am also a better person and a more spiritual being because of my many hours singing here in the Abbey Church . I simply cannot imagine what my life or my years at this college would be like without Choir in it. I am going to miss these concerts in my years after I move on from this college. I am going to miss those Monday, Wednesday and Sunday night practices after I graduate.

            But I will not need choir anymore.

            This group, this music, and this director has given me, in these four short years, the spiritual guidance that I can rely on after I graduate. I now will always have a little piece of this group in my heart, and that is what I will turn to from now on, instead of practices and performances. I have grown up in many ways in these simple wooden seats, from a person who just wasn’t the choir type, to a person who will be able to rely on this small choir for the rest of his life.

            I have two pieces of advice for my fellow choir members. First, buy and save the recordings from these concerts. Believe me, you will want them and will rely on them for many years to come. Remember those CDs that Fr. Bede sent me before my freshman year, just four short years ago? Well, I still have them, I still listen to them; and they do more for me than any other music CD in my collection. Another piece of advice to you all: listen to the words you sing. I wish someone had told me this when I was a freshman. You will get so much more out of these concerts and practices if you take a second to understand and comprehend these beautiful words. I guarantee that you will soon have a favorite choir song to sing and to pray, a song that is not just based on melody, chords and harmony but a song based on its words. You will soon realize that you are not just singing these songs, but that you are praying to God three times a week in a beautiful church with some of your closest peers. Not many have this wonderful opportunity, so you must live fully in it. Pray the Ave Maria, Sing the Our Father. You will soon know exactly what I mean.

            You may have been wondering what my favorite choir song is. It came to me sometime last year, and I have often relied on its words and message since then. Its music is simple, its length is short but its message is boundless, we have sung it for you all tonight. Cast Thy Burden:

   Cast thy burden upon the Lord,

      and He shall sustain thee;

   He never will suffer the righteous to fall

      He is at thy right hand

   Thy mercy, Lord is great

      and far above the heav'ns.

   Let none be made ashamed

                  that wait upon Thee.

 

            Thank you and God Bless you all.

Mike Hennessy '04