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Monday, April 11, 2005

Five Singaporeans and an Easter Cantata at Jarvis Street, Toronto

(From left: Rueben, Alex, Yeow Tong, Loy and Elaine)

This year Jarvis Street Baptist Church commemorated the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with an Easter Cantata entitled "He is the King of Glory". The Choir had been practicing for months for this cantata, and it was finally performed to a full hall (praise the Lord for answered prayers!) on March 25, 2005 (Good Friday). What do Singaporeans have to do with this?

The Lord graciously brought together the five of us--a rather motley group--to be a part of this memorable evening of remembrance and celebration. There are the two University of Toronto undergraduates Rueben and Alex ("the young ones") who have been in Toronto for about two years now and who were the first among us to attend services at Jarvis; the "fresh-off-the-boat" Yeow Tong who began his graduate studies in the Ontario Insitute of Studies in Education (UofT) in January 05; the UC Berkeley 4th year grad student Loy who came to Toronto in Fall 04 to continue his research under his professor who moved to UofT; and Elaine his wife (that's me!) who's a teacher on no-pay leave accompanying him as a homemaker, or as I like to put it sometimes--as a pei du ma ma (a Chinese expression usually applied to Mainland Chinese mothers who are accompanying their young children studying overseas in Singapore). With the exception of Yeow Tong, all of us sang in the Choir that night, and were very thankful for the way the Lord allowed our voices to be used for His glory. Loy and I are regular choir members in Jarvis; Rueben and Alex were roped in for the Cantata.

Rudy Bauman, a 73 year old from Switzerland who has been the choir director for about thirty years, put together a smooth-flowing, meaningful, and rousing selection of songs and scripture to become "He is the King of Glory". This cantata traced the mission and life of Christ--from the time of Old Testament prophecies, to the birth of the Child, to how He grew strong in wisdom and in grace, to His adult ministry, to how He came to His last supper with His disciples, to Gethsemane, and to how He was betrayed, accused of blasphemy, crucified, and how He finally rose triumphant from the grave on the third day as He said. Being John Rutter fans, Loy and I were pleasantly surprised to hear a very Rutter-ish moment in one of the pieces entitled "The Beatitudes", in the line "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you for my sake".Several of the pieces were really tough, especially Handel's "Worthy is the Lamb" and its pages of "Amens" in counterpoint which concludes the selection. But worthy indeed is He, to receive all blessing, honour and glory in the best that we can try to give, and He enabled us to learn all the pieces in time, and gave us voices to sing on Good Friday evening. As Yeow Tong commented after the service, the acoustics of the hall (more than a hundred years old) is great, and together with the grand pipe organ, really made the Cantata a success. But a simply "successful" performance without God's working in the hearts of the audience would be mere vainglory, a travesty in God's house. We know, however, that many--including ourselves--have prayed that hearts would be touched and re-energised with the gospel message, and trust that God's Word will not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). Hallelujah, what a Saviour!

*I will soon up upload 2-3 of our favourite pieces as soon as my husband gets to converting the tape recording to MP3 files. The quality of the original recording was not too good, but I hope that most of the words will be audible. Watch for it!

"But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him."
~ Isaiah 53:5-6 ~


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