First Sunday on Tour
Daily Tour Diary 5
By Eric Huntsman
On June 28, the Choir and Orchestra enjoyed their first of two Sundays on the road during the 2015 Tour. As part of the careful planning that was done to help intersperse our rigorous travel and performing schedule with “rest and recovery time,” brunch did not begin until 11:30, which allowed members to sleep in or otherwise start their Sabbath in a relaxed manner.
Free time earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon allowed many Choir members to fan out across Manhattan to enjoy the sites. For some, this included attending services at many of the city’s great churches, such as St. Mary’s at Time Square, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, or the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The motivation for many was partly musical to enjoy a solemn sung liturgy, hear a famous organ play, or participate in evensong, but it was also wonderful to worship with other believers.
But the focus of our Sabbath on the road was our own LDS sacrament meeting, which was held in the same hotel ballroom where we had just eaten brunch. I am always surprised at how quickly this transition takes place. As prelude music begins on a portable keyboard, post-meal conversations subside, people settle back at their tables, and the entire atmosphere changes as an otherwise secular room becomes sacred space with the singing of a hymn and an opening prayer.
Our meeting place did not have stained glass windows, a pipe organ, or vaulted ceilings, but with the singing of “Let Us All Press On” and a lovely, heart-felt invocation by Choir alto Anne Marie St. Felix, the spirit flooded in and that ballroom became a place of worship. Ron Gunnell, an assistant to the Choir president, conducted the meeting, and Elder Wilson of the Seventy and his wife Linda spoke, inspiring us with their words.
But it was the reason for which we gathered, to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, that moved me most. As we sang “Again We Meet around the Board,” I remembered that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Worshiping at once privately and together with my sisters and brothers was deeply stirring to me as we remembered through this simple act the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We speak a lot of choral and orchestral music “being a team sport,” and we work to be unified in our music making. But today we were unified in our worship.