Friday, April 25, 2014


Peter and I flew out very early yesterday morning to arrive in Pittsburgh, and then drove a rental pickup truck (it was the "Manager's Special," and I'm getting used to it) north to Grove City.  We had to take a detour around a rather nasty accident that closed the interstate.  I remember my time in Pennsylvania very fondly, but I can live without Pennsylvania roads, where the speed limit is still stubbornly 55 but the average native seems to drive 75.  We noticed lots of roadkill along the way.

We've had a very nice visit with Daniel.  Peter took the official prospective student tour today and had an interview, and we sat in on a couple of classes.  Things are gearing up for the special Alumni Touring Choir concert tomorrow in honor of Dr. Douglas Browne, who is retiring after 33 years of inspiring and excellent choral conducting.  I had the honor of being part of the choir in my senior year (1988-89) and once again in 2005 for a special summer alumni choir tour of the British Isles. Both of these experiences were highlights of my life, and I am far from alone.  Approximately 200 former choir members are coming back for this event. The day will be packed with rehearsals, a tribute lunch and a reception after the concert.  Rain is forecast; metaphorically too, as the Facebook group for this event is abuzz with predictions of emotional outporings.  Peter and Daniel will be hanging out and doing college stuff for most of the time.  The people are warm and welcoming here.  I am guilty of taking for granted how much the College and the people in it have blessed my life.  It is good to remember.

A college campus is a funny thing.  You wander through the physical spaces populated with inspiring architecture and landscaping, and remember the far-off days you spent in a particular spot, and a quick image will burst in on you.  Or when they have completely renovated a building, you have a bit of cognitive dissonance with past images superimposed on the present, as if today's students are really shadows of the students of bygone eras, only without the dated hair.  In totally new buildings, you wish you could break from the tour guide and explore for a bit.  What are you looking for?  Probably that thing that C.S. Lewis called "joy."  It is thick on campus, where people at the most intense parts of their lives have lived intensely for so long.  It is odd coming back, knowing that I am no longer young, and finding the joy still floating freely about for the taking, mingled with the raindrops and dreary weather that are all most people see, most days.  And of course, just because there is joy doesn't mean it won't make you cry, or even break your heart.

Tomorrow the songs I will be singing are likewise marinated in joy for me.  Each one I have sung with Dr. Browne directing before, most of them as part of a tour.  It will almost not matter if I can't hit the high notes or I don't meet up with everyone I used to know.  We are all archetypes on campus.  It is both intensely real and bewilderingly unreal at the same time.

  • Salvation is Created, Pavel Tschesnokoff
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, Hugo Distler
  • Holy Radiant Light, Alexandre Gretchaninoff
  • The Majesty and Glory of Your Name, Tom Fettke
  • Soon Ah Will Be Done, arr. William Dawson
  • Give Me Jesus, L.L. Fleming
  • I AM, arr. Roy E. Bronkema
  • Yet Will I Sing, Alisa Bair

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