by Deane Zeeman
On Saturday, May 2nd, Almonte United Church hosted the second annual Almonte in Praise! This ecumenical event, which celebrates the diverse ways in which Christians in Almonte praise God in song, is the brainchild of Doretha L. Murphy, noted Ottawa musician, vocalist and teacher, as well as organist and choir director at St. Paul’s Anglican Church Almonte.
A mass choir, comprised of congregants from the local Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, United and Free Methodist churches and conducted by Ms Murphy, presented a variety of works: Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine; How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise? with Praise Him! Praise Him!; Wounded, a poignant composition by gifted local composer Ian Douglas; and Michael Barrett’s jazzy God Is! Wounded featured Cellist Steve Smith and vocal soloists Anika-France Forget, Soprano, and Bruce Reside, Tenor.
The capacity audience was also blessed by music presented by local church choirs and praise teams. Each of the participating six groups shared their own flavours of Christian worship. Among the offerings were a jazz-style invitation to walk with Jesus by the Almonte United Senior Church Choir; 4-part a cappella singing of psalms by the Reformed Presbyterian Church Choir; a moving rendition of The Proclaimers’ Sunshine on Leith which highlighted its spiritual message from the Almonte United Church Folk Choir; and a modern setting of The Magnificat by Holy Name of Mary Catholic Parish Choir.
St Paul’s contribution to the concert was comprised of two complementary parts. St Paul’s praise team showcased contemporary music representative of their 11 a.m. services, including a song with a chorus taught on the spot, which allowed everyone present to join in lustily. The 9:15 choir’s three anthems demonstrated the breadth of sacred music they offer: Hal Hopson’s arrangement of The Lord Is Our Refuge from Bach’s Cantata Denn du wirst; the tender This We Pray by Jay Althouse; and, the exuberant neo-spiritual Great Day A-Comin’ by David Lantz III.
The event was a resounding success. In addition to great music, old friendships were rekindled, and new friendships were nurtured among the members of the mass choir. Musicians and audience alike came away with a renewed understanding and appreciation of our unity in Christ.
Stay tuned, as plans have already begun for next year’s Almonte in Praise!