does not sound like a complicated question, right? But i think you might set some back to think a little, and you will get answers like "singing is my hobby" or "i love singing" or "i have lots of fun singing". Well last night during and after the Oslo Gospel Choir concert in Kassel, the answer sounded different from above. They sing because they know God wants them to. They sing because they have a message to tell everyone - "Jesus loves you, and you need to know and believe in Him".
Gospel music itself is not about some soul-full style of singing only. I think most people will relate gospel music with what they always see in movie such as Sister Act. But the original center of gospel, which was started way in the 1920s, was to encourage people to testify their believes more freely to other people. It is about expression, sharing good news and hence the word - Gospel: the good news about Jesus is our saviour, and through Him we can have salvation.
The Oslo Gospel Choir started their concert with a statement: "We are here not to present a show. We are not here to entertain you. We are here, together with you, to praise the Lord.". Now that's some kind of statement people usually are afraid to say. Why? Tore W. Aas, the conductor of Oslo Gospel Choir kept emphesizing who is the reason they sing throughout their concert. We sense that they are sincere. No where during the concert you see any of them trying to highlight their skills - don't get me wrong. They are real good singers, and they have all the reason to stand there and show off what they can do (of course not being arrogant).
so back to the concert :) Right after Getup!'s 3 songs (we got nice response from audience... it was a great pleasure alright), the crowd welcomed Oslo Gospel Choir warmly. The choir started with some nice worship songs, and very soon after the start people started joining in singing and clapping. It is an interative concert - you don't just watch, you join and be a part of it.
They sang a variety of songs - praise and worship, gospel, some well-known christian song (like the good old "to God be the Glory"), and even a raggae track! In other words, they are not just good in gospel music, but many kinds of music (well, i don't expect them to sing hard rock though :) rap/hip hop might be nice, but that would be Kirk Franklin then). 14 Singers with great voices (the twins female voices were superb! they two sounded almost the same!) brought surprises after surprises (for me, since i have not really heard them before last night). There was even "Joy to the World" arranged with a line of Messiah's "Hallelujah" Chorus. The decision to buy their latest DVD and a compilation CD was right :)
At the end of the concert, as encore they sang a few more songs including the familiar "Oh Happy Day" song. It ended with a song (Shine Your Life) remind us all to let Jesus shine through us. Walking slowly, with candles in their hands, they left the crowd singing along the chorus, letting the words dwell in their mind.
Through out the night. TzeYing kept wondering how many among the audience really understood what Tore said. He had so much important messages to tell, but since it was told in English, we do assume not everybody will understand, since no one intepreted. I do think we should not worry so much, since understanding the language does not mean understanding the message. It is like being in church every week and yet never really understand what God's trying to tell us. She, however, tried her best in intepreting some of the contents to a helper of our choir, Uschi. We hope that it had helped her in knowing both God and the message better.
Talking to Tore was inspiring too. He shared his experiences and his excitement to move on with this ministry. It is not about how famous Oslo Gospel choir is, but how they can further preach the gospel with their songs and singing. He even "make" his choir to sing new songs everyday! The choir will learn a new song in bus as they tour Germany this week, and present it at night.
(for more pictures, go here)
It is the second i saw a concert which focus is on our Father in heaven. Last it was two years ago at Michael W. Smith's concert in Germany. What in common is the action - people on stage will always point their finger high up the sky, while looking up. It is an action to acknowledge that only God deserves the glory and praises. It touches me when i see such scene... and would remind me that even when i can sing well, it is not because of me but Him i can have such privilage.
Glory be to Him on high.