On Sunday April 19, 2015 the Mormon Tabernacle Choir bid a tearful, fond farewell to 28 family members during the annual retirement ceremony. Membership in the Choir is limited to 20 years of service, or age 60, whichever comes first. Each year that goes by for me I find the retirement ceremonies become more emotional. It’s difficult to describe just how close we all become. We truly are a family, and the idea of losing one member – let alone twenty-eight at a time – is very painful.
The message on this morning’s broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word was about Patience – specifically, allowing time for the Master potter to carefully shape others – and ourselves – into the masterpiece we are meant to become. It takes time to become. All of the experiences of our lives are part of God’s careful plan and can be used to help us grow. Ironically, today I think choir members were not feeling impatient about time moving too slowly – rather, change was feeling all too fast!
However, in coming days and weeks, the virtue of Patience will be called upon regularly as we make new transitions and adjustments; whether as a retiree beginning the new “life after choir”, as a Choir veteran welcoming in the excited unseasoned members, or as one of those wide-eyed first-years feeling oh so overwhelmed (hang on little newbie for the big learning curve – you’ll be feeling like this for at least the next 12-18 months)!
“Patience means…making room for change as we all learn a better way…Patience is the power that comes from hope and confidence that things will, in time, improve.
Even in our fast-paced life, let us allow the Master Potter to do His work. If we are patient, we will see a beautiful result.” – Lloyd Newell, Broadcast Number 4466
The first and second Soprano’s bid farewell to all four of our devoted section leaders this retirement. (There were a lot of extra tears and hugs flowing due to that)
“…having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.” – Mosiah 18:21
Today’s retiring group represented over 350 years worth of selfless unpaid service to the Choir.
During the retirement ceremony, each departing member is brought to stand at the front near the choir president and conductor to be individually recognized. A brief message each retiree wrote ahead of time is read aloud by the Choir director as a farewell tribute – then, they receive their retirement plaque (and hugs from the Choir director & president).
The comments and memories shared in the farewell messages are always very tender – and some are even quite humorous. Today, one sister felt the need to add her final confession after twenty years;
“I chewed gum during my audition.”
People remarked how quickly time has flown, they shared favorite memories, and offered advice to those who will continue to carry the torch. From time to time one would revel a bit in their anticipated freedom from early Sunday mornings. [No one has ever expressed sadness about giving up early Sunday morning call times]. Every one expressed tender feelings about giving up the constant companionship, close friendships and incredible music making with fellow Choir family.
But, as one retiree summed it up best,
“I’ll still be singing every Sunday with my Choir family.
I’ll just be singing from another room!”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, all retirees stand and turn to face the choir, as we sing our parting prayer – pouring out all our love through the beloved musical blessing – “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again”.
I love and will miss each of you, my dear friends! Keep smiling (and singing) <3- MoSop