A Spotlight on PRUMC Staff Singers
Lucas Gray & Mary Allison Hamby
In the midst of this time of physical distancing, PRUMC staff singers continue to bless us each week through song. Their voices help to enrich our sacred space, glorify God, and bring us together as we worship online.
Two of our talented singers, Lucas Gray and Mary Allison Hamby recently shared a bit about their passion and perspective on what it’s like to join PRUMC each Sunday during this unique time.
PRUMC: What drives you to continue singing with us each Sunday?
Lucas: Throughout this “social distancing” time, I have wanted to create as much normalcy and routine in my life as possible. This means small things like getting up at the same time each day, exercising, and then getting done what I need to for the day. As a choral musician, however, I have a desire and passion that cannot be fulfilled being at home by myself. My art and my passion depends on the community with others that only a choir can bring. Having the opportunity to sing each week with such fantastic singers gives me just enough artistic normalcy to keep going through these hard times.
Mary Allison: Making music with other people is one of my greatest joys in life. Solo singing is fine, making music alone when I need a musical release is great, but nothing compares to making music with other humans. Someone once said to me that “music is the closest thing we have to true communication with the heavens”. To me, it’s not because of the words necessarily, or even the music itself; it’s because when you make music with others — especially singing with one another — they share part of their soul in a way that I’ve never felt in any other medium of interaction.
During this time of Covid-19, the ability for us to make music with our PRUMC choir family and the congregation physically in the same room, is not possible. Thinking back, I remember the first time I sang in a Christmas service. When Scott described what to do with our candles during the words “Fall on your knees” in “O Holy Night,” honestly, I giggled for a second. But when that moment happened, I had to stop singing for a minute to hold back tears. To me that was an outward sign of the connection that music brings to each of us — the light was dim and when we all raised our voices together, the light was bright. Singing in the virtual services, it feels like everyone is holding their lit candles but they aren’t being raised — I know they are there, but it’s not as striking. It will be an emotional day for me when the congregation returns and we can finally hear all those “lights” being raised again together to the glory of our God.
PRUMC: Do you enjoy it?
Lucas: Absolutely. Each and every day of the week, I make preparing the music for the following Sunday a priority. This is not because it’s “work” or my “job.” It is that, yes, but it is so much more. Making music is my heart and passion. That is enough for me, audience or not. Knowing that so many people tune in and are touched by the music we provide is just the cherry on top.
Mary Allison: Do I enjoy it? My answer is yes and no — yes, because I get to keep singing in a time where I am in the great minority of that privilege. But the larger portion of that answer is no. Singing in a choir isn’t about me…its about feeling that heavenly communication that happens between the notes, between the phrases, the communication that occurs without speaking a word but by simply feeling the energy that a piece made with and between other people.
PRUMC: How would you feel if you didn’t/couldn’t do it?
Lucas: If I was unable to sing at PRUMC each week, I would feel as if a huge part of me is missing. Being within the walls of this grand church is something that I look forward to each and every Sunday. Our sanctuary has a certain quality to it, almost as if it’s begging for such beautiful and spiritual music. Imagining a space like ours being deprived of that beauty would be a shame. I am honored that I have the opportunity to keep the music alive in the church each and every week.
Mary Allison: So why do I continue to sing with my fellow staff singers during this strange time? Well, selfishly, it allows me to get out of the house and to see some of my dear friends who I am privileged to work alongside week after week. But selflessly, I view music as a gift. In a strange way, it feels like when I sing at a funeral or a wedding. Only instead of offering my voice to the families who are celebrating or mourning, I am offering it to my PRUMC family in this strange time of mourning and isolation, celebrating those we have close or virtually cherishing those we can’t be near.