Sometimes I'm reminded of a favorite thing by accident. That happened this morning, when I caught the announcement on Good Morning America that in a few minutes the Boys' Choir of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle would be appearing. Having no appointment to keep, I stuck around until they were through singing. It was a grand beginning for the day.
When I was a boy my musical education was nil. On top of that I was tone deaf, almost always off-key. I could carry a tune, more or less; but as one of my choir directors once said, having stood near me in the chancel of the church for several hundred hymns, "not quite in the bucket."
I never heard another boy sing alone, or at least never paid attention, until I was eleven and our elementary school put on an operetta based on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I was given a speaking part. Some of my friends were given solo parts. These were cheerfully vulgar representatives of that age and time, physically tough and athletic—"all boy" as an unfortunate phrase from that era used to term them. Laugh if you want to, but my experience then was so limited, and my ear so poor, that I did not know until then that boys had the same vocal range as women. Those tough kids could sing like angels. I couldn't do it myself, but I could appreciate it.
I am sure that in some circles boys' choirs are commonplace, but where we have lived our sons weren't recruited to sing in any and performances were a rare musical treat. We pause with respect when a choir appears on television, and try to get there if a visiting choir is in the neighborhood.
So in my case, boys' choirs are among my favorite thing because, in addition to the beauty of their music, they have been rare in my life. Here are further reasons why.
- I love to see ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
- I love to see people value their gifts and enjoy expressing them. Children love to excel. They love to perform when they are confident that they are good at what they do.
- I love to see boys being boys, for that is what they are being. Take them off that stage or out of that chancel, and they have more in common with boys in general than they have with any adult person. "Boys being boys" is not negative at all; it is merely fact. Whatever they do, they do as boys.
As one Christian education specialist once said, "Children make their contribution not by what they will become, but by what they are now."