Beauty in simplicity
Abby Lange
Experiencing traditional church services in other cultures is always interesting. Today the Chorale sang at two confirmation services in Seyda and Gentha, two very small villages about 30 kilometers from Wittenburg.  Pastor Meinhof is the pastor at both of these small parishes (he tends to eight churches in all!), and it was great to see his smiling face for a second day.

The church we sang at first was a charming little stone building, and the inside was decked out for spring. Bouquets of fresh flowers hung from each of the pews, and the altar was surrounded by two small trees and flowers everywhere. It was beautiful! The service not only celebrated the confirmation of two young teenagers, but also a baptism. Not to mention it’s Pentecost today, which is observed with much more gusto here than in the United States.  Even though the service was in German, I could still follow along through the liturgy, which was almost identical to a traditional Lutheran service in the States.  And we were all mildly humored when one of the hymns was “Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham” – in English!

Then we ate lunch in a barn. Yes, a barn. This was in the backyard of Pastor Meinhof’s house, which was right next door to the church. Another traditional homecooked meal awaited us, this time complete with red cabbage. We also got to hang out with Hans, Pastor Meinhof’s two-year-old son, and Speedy and Mickey, Pastor Meinhof’s goats. All three of these creatures were extremely cute and provided wonderful entertainment.

The second service was at a relatively “new” church – only 300 years old – and was even smaller than the first. At this service, only one boy was confirmed, and yet an entire side of the church plus the balcony was filled with eager friends and family members. (The Chorale filled the other whole side.)  Even though these services were small in comparison to what many of us are used to, it was another reminder that our music doesn’t have to be performed in glamorous locations in order to be a blessing to us and our audience. I hope that I can speak for many of the Chorale members when I say that the past two days have been so special and humbling.  These moments help us remember why we sing, and how that singing can transcend cultural barriers.  As Pastor Meinhof told us after the service, it’s such a blessing to worship with our brothers and sisters from other countries, even if we don’t speak the same language.

The afternoon was filled with a long drive, but we were rewarded by a delicious dinner in a gorgeous location.  The restaurant we ate at was right next to a meadow which extended into a pine forest on one side and rolling hills on the other. I’m sure there will be some photos up on Flicker, but if not, ask the Choralian near you – almost everyone had their camera out capturing the scene as the sun set. Much to the delight of all of us, there was a small yard across the drive that was the home of two more goats and a handful of bunnies.  It’s the simple things in life, no?

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CHORALE ITINERARY

May 20: Concert - Leipzig, Lutherkirche (7:30 p.m.)
May 23: Service - Seyda (10 a.m.) and Gentha (1 p.m.)
May 24: Concert – Rottenburg am Neckar, Wallfahrtskirche Weggental (7 p.m.)
May 25: Choral Workshop – Rottenburg am Neckar (9:30 a.m.)
May 26: Concert - Bernburg, Schlosskirche (7:30 p.m.)
May 27: Concert - Köthen, St. Agnus kirche (7:30 p.m.)
May 28 - Service - Leipzig, Thomaskirche (5 p.m.)
May 29 - Cantata - Leipzig, Thomaskirche (3 p.m.)
May 30 - Service - Leipzig, Thomaskirche 10 (a.m.)