Hallelujah, My Father
Susan Bigelow '09

Susan Bigelow '09I wanted to be in Folk Choir before I even really wanted to go to Notre Dame. When I arrived here freshman year, I didn't know the words to "Notre Dame, Our Mother," but I did know every verse to every song on Crossroads of Praise. And like so many budding FC groupies, the first thing I did after settling in was to sign up for an audition. Bright eyed and more than a little nervous, I made my way up to the third floor of CoMo, my sight-reading skills honed and "Amazing Grace" on repeat in my head.

That's pretty much where Part I of this Folk Choir fairy tale ends.

Did I get in? Nope. Did I give up? Goodness no. Instead of despairing, I devised a Plan B: "Operation: Folk Choir Rudy." I vowed that I was going to try out for Folk Choir every spring until, finally, Steve would feel bad for me and let me stand in the loft for the last song of the last mass of my senior year.

Luckily, second time was the charm. I was ecstatic to sing at my first mass this past December, and my joy has only increased as I've been welcomed into this beautiful family of folkheads. And, to my surprise, the longer I've been in choir, the more grateful I've become for my year and a half in the congregation. Remembering what it was like to hear "Come to the Living Stone" or the "African Gloria" for the first time has not only made me grateful beyond all telling for the opportunity to be part of such a ministry, but it has also given me an appreciation for just how profoundly the music we sing touches others.

This feeling hit me most powerfully singing "Hallelujah, My Father" the week before Lent began this year. I got chills as I remembered hearing it for the first time, kneeling after Communion one morning during the spring of my freshman year. I finally understood why in the moment of silence before the song began—I could feel a spark of anticipation, as if even the stars on the ceiling of the Basilica suddenly found themselves waiting in joyful hope.

“Hallelujah, my Father,
   for giving us your Son,
Sending Him into the world
   to be given up for us,
Knowing we would bruise Him,
And smite Him from the earth…”

I closed my eyes and began to pray the words that enfolded me with a peace that came from the achingly beautiful song itself as much as from the love in the voices that sang it.

“Hallelujah, my Father,
   in His death is my birth,
Hallelujah, my Father,
   in His life is my life.”

Sometimes when we sing, it's so easy to get so caught up in the notes that it becomes hard to take a step back and listen to the song. I love how humble this song is, how simple and pure, and how impossible it is to sing it without praying every word. This song is such a perfect example of the purpose of music ministry—lifting hearts and raising spirits, erasing the line between choir and congregation, between students with their backpacks stuffed under pews and families in their Sunday best, and inviting all who come to enter into the life and the love of Christ. When we sing our "hallelujahs" this Easter, let's truly see it as a moment to close our eyes, lift our hearts, and enter into the joy of the Resurrection that so powerfully unites us! Happy Easter to everyone!