MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The holiday season is a time when even the most non-musical of us may break into song at some point.
But which Minnesota church choir is the best? Chris Shaffer takes us to Christ the King Catholic Church in Browerville, where the voices are almost heavenly.
Inside this majestic old Catholic church, the “Peace Choir” is preparing for what is arguably the biggest service of the year.
Since 1908, choral music has coursed its way through the magnificent arches and stained glass windows of Christ the King.
“This is St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music,” said Father Mitchell Bechtold. “Very appropriate.”
Father Bechtold has been head pastor here for about a year — a small notch on the church’s 100-plus-year timeline. Yet, he fully understands the importance and impact of music to a congregation.
“There’s something about music that adds soul to the body,” Bechtold said. “It breaths emotion into the devotion of our worship, really.”
But of the 40 or so who make up this choir, perhaps none are more committed than three women: accompanist Joan Schueller, director Sandy Schorn, and choir founder Paula Oven. They have enough combined years with the group that, well, let’s just say decorum would not permit us to reveal.
“Paula taught me to play the guitar in elementary school, fifth grade, and Sandy was my band and choir director,” Schueller said.
It is their love of music that keep them inspired.
“One of the priests we had said that was 85 percent of the inspiration for people is the music at a service,” Oven said. “It’s also such a joy to share where you can see that they are really affected by what we’re doing.”
Choir members range in age from 14 to 80. And although they have a lot of fun, “good enough” is not good enough.
“Kids bring energy, and the adults provide stability,” Oven said.
And so as people come home to Browerville for the holidays.
“What they receive is this welcome, not only from their families but from their church community as well. And we’ll fill this church to the brim,” Father Bechtold said. “In Catholic theology, we believe that there are nine choirs of angels, and I think what we have here is the tenth.”
This is a busy choir. Of course, they sing every Sunday, but they also perform at special services. They also practice every Wednesday night for at least two hours.