Musical excellence gains a hearing for the gospel.
Sixty-two choirs from 23 nations competed in the International Choir Festival held last summer in The Hague, Holland. Only one of the division winners, the Wheaton College Men’s Glee Club, was from a non-Communist country. The Wheaton, Illinois, choir won the festival’s men’s division.
The competition included a required performance of “Jubilate Deo” written by Dutch composer Henk Badings, who was present in the audience. Badings said Wheaton’s chorus was the only group that sang the composition as he intended—with “joy and animation.”
The competition was the climax of a six-week European tour during which the men’s chorus presented 48 concerts in six countries, including Israel.
Yohanan Boehm, Israel’s premier music critic, wrote in the Jerusalem Post, “This is one of the most extraordinary choral ensembles ever to perform in Israel.”
More than the compliments, the choir’s director, Clayton Halvorsen, will remember the words of the competition’s master of ceremonies, who was also on the organizing committee. He noted before a widely mixed audience that the group’s primary purpose was “to present a Christian witness.”
Halvorsen, in his twenty-fifth year as director, believes that musical excellence and spreading the gospel are inseparable. He says those who are impressed with the music will listen also to the reason behind it.
Ironically, most Wheaton College glee club members have to consult a dictionary to interpret the technical terms critics use to describe them. Only a small percentage are music majors, and many have had no formal music training. Almost anyone who can sing is in—Halvorsen takes it from there. His skills as a director and the hard work of the club’s members ...1
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