Sing, Sing, Sing!

Published 7:31 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Editors note: Comedienne Pam Stone writes her column for The Tryon Daily Bulletin twice each month from her office at her home in Gowensville. Want a chance to respond to this column? Go to Pams blog at

A couple of Saturdays ago, along with my radio co-hosts, Ramona and Sharon, I had the distinct pleasure of emceeing the annual Christmas concert held in conjunction with the Spartanburg Philharmonic at Converse College.

Swelling with the excitement of a near-capacity crowd, the stage at Twitchell Auditorium, festooned with garland and flanked by two enormous Christmas trees, was graced by elaborately dressed dancers performing favorites from The Nutcracker and a competent, impeccably presented orchestra, leading us through the evening towards the much-anticipated sing-along of Handels Messiah.

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It was the job of we three ladies, particularly in the beginning of the production which was solemn and liturgical, to announce each performer as they approached the stage with dignity and poise while remaining faithful to the script before us on the podium. To this, we stayed true and professional until the second half of the program after we welcomed the childrens choir, an ensemble of African-American children known as Pure-n-Heart, with the smallest in the front, the older children standing behind, all keenly focused on their conductor as well as a woman dressed in red, who, standing a few feet behind him, would coach them through the physical movements they were to perform during their selections.

How well I remember, as a child, standing on a school stage during Nativity and Christmas plays. The terror of forgetting ones only line (not terribly difficult when dressed as a lamb and only having to utter baaa) or, as I was usually the tallest child in the class, being shrouded in cotton beard and a polyester bedspread to represent one of the three wise men and shove a spray-painted, gold box at a startled Mary and croak, Myrrh! was something not easily forgotten. So, while I smiled gamely at each member of the childrens choir who now strode out to take the stage, some confidently, some a bit disconcerted, my heart hammered in empathy for the very smallest who faced this sea of unfamiliar faces and bright stage lights before them.

Fear dissolved within moments as all eyes were drawn to the littlest child in the front row. This tyke, we later learned, was all of three years of age and carefully turned out in the type of Christmas dress that all mothers aspire for their daughters to wear, and committed to her performance with the aplomb of Ethel Merman.

We lift our haaaaaaands…. the children cried, imitating their coach and reaching their arms high above their heads, We lift our heaaaaaarts! they continued, clasping their hands to their chests. And while one or two children, slightly nervous, fell out of step, pulling, instead, at their skirts, and singing quite softly with downcast eyes, our star, eyes screwed closed with concentration, braids swinging with each toss of her head, belted out each note while bending far lower and reaching far higher than any other child, swaying to the music, snapping her fingers, utterly caught up in the music, the spirit, the moment.

Feeling Ramonas shoulders shaking beside me, I was grateful to see that she, too, along with Sharon, was laughing and wiping tears from her eyes. It simply wasnt possible to remained restrained before such a performance. I have never sung or danced with such unabashed gusto, even as a teenager, belting into a hairbrush before a mirror in the privacy of my own bedroom with Linda Rondstadt pulsing from the stereo. What a delight to witness such radiance and joy in so small a child.

For Christians, Christmas is a time for celebrating the birth of Christ.

I am profoundly grateful that this Christmas, thanks to yet another child, I have been reminded to whole-heartedly embrace that wonder.~ I’m Just Saying written by Pam Stone