This has once again been a week full of song – astonishing final performances of Oliver from our Year 5 and Year 6 children that (literally) were for at least half a dozen people I have spoken to, the best performance art that they had ever seen in a primary school. It really was that good. It was human flourishing at its peak and I don’t think I have ever been so proud of the work of a group of teachers and the children they inspired to such heights. The fantastic production values, the intonation and diction of the singing, the reaching for some notes that are not usually in an 11-year old’s normal range, the showmanship and awareness of the audience and the unrestrained joy in the giving of it all as a gift to their (in some cases weeping) parents – all of this was involved in one of the most dramatic comings-together or performers and audience that I have witnessed. We find ourselves at a point in our school’s development where the arts are creeping up and overtaking us – despite the fact that we have really not paid over-much attention to them. Someone said to me last night that they thought it was because we had such good musicians on our staff. Certainly that helps set a culture, but this production was fantastic because of the sheer ability of two relatively non-musical teachers to inspire, audition and challenge a group of children to sing, act and dance out of their skins. An acapella version of As long as he needs me, sung with clarity and poise, confidence and poignancy brought the house down. And that really was just a part of an amazing whole. So, to those wonderful soloists and the great chorus and dancers and actors who supported them, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You have given more to our school than you can know.
Children singing make others want to sing, and on the Tuesday night we were able to take part, as a Year 5 stage choir, in the Milton Keynes Primary Music Festival in Bletchley, with all the joy and frustration that music festivals carry in their wake. The 120 children from 6 schools who made up the choir sang their hearts out for their parents and their teachers and showed again, as we always find, that song unites and shared music draws people together in a celebration of their own humanity. I was sitting on the floor with the children whilst the instrumentalists were performing, and when the Samba Reggae drummers from Water Hall Primary got up to play, the whole floor was wriggling with children itching to join in. Then it was the other instrumentalists on chairs, and then parents and finally the whole hall was at one with these fantastic percussionists, clapping, drumming their legs or chairs or whatever came to hand. At the end, amidst thunderous applause, I watched the teachers come back with the children, tears streaming down their faces with the pride of what their children had achieved.
And then the choir sang again, and as an offering to the assembled crowd, sang the gorgeous Amani utupe na ustawi – Grant us peace, give us courage. This is a song for us, that we can use and sing together as we seek God’s peace and courage in our school life. I love it!
All we do to allow children to flourish, honours their creator. All we seek for their good has his blessing and his joy. Whether we know or acknowledge it or not, in the good and honourable stewardship of that part of creation we have responsibility for, we are turned towards their God in love. We are co-operators in allowing these little ones to come to him, and not hindering them. No wonder the experiences of the last few days have felt to me more like the Kingdom of God than most churches!