I spent New Year’s Night singing hymns in a church, unaccompanied, with 300 or so other people. ?The crowd was diverse in age, but entirely white in skin color. Everyone was dressed very nicely in what I called “church clothes” growing up.
I’ve sung with Old Order Mennonites before, it’s a memorable experience.?Most of the women wore small white caps over hair that had never been cut. ?Their dresses were knee-length or longer, and many were ornamented by small children tugging at the hem. ?I whispered to my friend that I felt like a Rahab, in my jeans and quilted vest, but mainly because of my flippy haircut, uncovered.
I was there with an old friend from college and a new Korean friend. ?We three sat in the back pew, belting out such strong tenor and alto that the young women in the pew ahead of us turned around and stared, giggling. ?The Korean friend had never sung in English before, but managed to sight-read from the Harmonia Sacra book just fine, singing tunes from the 1850s. ?Many of the lyrics we sung were about the passing of time, fittingly enough, so many yearned to join friends “gone on ahead. ?I don’t mind the pilgrim language, the pining for Jerusalem, and I’ve always loved singing about crossing the Jordan. ?But I’m thinking of the actual river, with water, not the metaphorical one that lays before the pearly gates.
A great way to greet the new year!