They say that laughter is the best medicine. I think that singing is a close second.
Do I have the time to sing during college at Patrick Henry College?
During the stress and panic of my first week at Patrick Henry College , I was approached by Professor Rodney Appleton who invited me to join the Patrick Henry College Chorale. With a steady stream of horror stories from upperclassmen regarding my first round of exams and papers, I was doubtful that adding anything to my course load would be a wise decision.
Moreover, my interests in higher education had nothing to do with music or singing, so why would I invest time into an activity that couldn’t benefit me in my career? Initially, I planned to visit one session as a courtesy, then decline and move on with my semester. But after a single meeting, I knew I needed to join the Patrick Henry College Chorale. While many of my peers couldn’t see the merit of adding 3 hours of choral singing to my already busy schedule, there were a few reasons I knew it was worth the bit of extra stress.
Breakfast (check), Coffee (check), Singing (check)
First, Chorale provided me with a wonderful way to start each and every day. As any Patrick Henry College student will tell you, the non-stop class schedule and substantial amount of reading required to keep up with the professors has a way of putting you on an unhealthily late schedule. Students stay up till 2 or 3 AM studying or reading, then won’t get up until they are dangerously close to missing their first class. This type of schedule ends up being a treadmill of misery filled with constant pressure.
Patrick Henry College students try to find ways to rest and relax during the gaps in-between, but those opportunities are few and far between. The Patrick Henry College Chorale is a practical way to make those opportunities a part of your schedule. While many would say that meeting at 8 AM every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is hardly their idea of relaxation, I can honestly say that Chorale has been one of the biggest positives in my pursuit of a healthy and balanced life. Meeting to sing with 50 or so other students every other day at 8 AM helped tremendously in finding ways to take a break from academics and destress.
God inhabits the praise of his people
Second, and perhaps more importantly, with the focus of the Chorale at Patrick Henry College being to glorify God in song, the Chorale provided me with a daily reminder of my life’s dependence on my savior. In Patrick Henry College’s academic environment, an atmosphere that rigorously prepares you for the real world by challenging you at every moment, it is easy to become hyper-focused on success and esteem.
Something simple like Chorale, an activity that can do little tobolster your ego, can force you to take a moment and remember that your purpose is to praise our Lord in all that you do. Taking an hour each morning to sing praise to him was a habit they certainly kept me near to him in the midst of stress and struggle. As soon as my fellow chorale members and I finished our morning prayer we would begin to sing. That sound of our singing rising to God in the cozy chorale practice room lifted my spirit too—bringing it to a new place of rest and dependence on him. Suffice it to say, Patrick Henry College Chorale played a major role in sustaining my spiritual health through the stress of freshman year as a Patrick Henry College student.
Music brings people together
Finally, Patrick Henry College Chorale provided me with a welcoming a vibrant community that blessed me with an outpouring of love. With a campus that already tends to feel cramped, it can be easy as a Patrick Henry Student to retreat within a shell of anti-social behavior, assuming that you will become well acquainted with those around you whether you want to be or not. But the importance of searching out a community of friends cannot be over stressed.
Whether we were practicing our songs, running into one-another in the hallways between classes, getting ready for performances, standing together on risers during Patrick Henry College concerts, or even screaming and throwing things as we played Bunko at Professor Appleton’s house, I always knew that I had a group of friends who I could count on. More importantly, God used the chorale to surround me with a crew of Christian believers who continually prayed over one another – supporting each other through whatever individual challenges faced us.
Though every student who attends Patrick Henry College will be constantly surrounded by godly men and women, it remains easy to become isolated—especially in a spiritual sense. Joining together in a group activity that is expressly undertaken to praise the Lord goes a long way to create deep relationships between people—real relationships that will endure hard times and fulfill the promise of Proverbs 18:24, “a man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” In the chorale, I found an entire family of brothers and sisters as dear to me as those I grew up with.
I could never have predicted the impact that that first interaction with Professor Appleton in the Patrick Henry College Barbara Hodel Center lobby would have. The blessing that chorale has been is one that I thank God for every day. It has truly allowed me to raise a joyful noise to the Lord—both in choral concert and in the parts of my everyday life that have been eternally changed.
Beckett Millhouse is a sophomore at Patrick Henry College. Born, raised, and still living in Purcellville, Virginia, he enjoys playing guitar, creative problem solving, and debating politics and philosophy. He hopes to graduate with a degree in Government specializing in American Politics and Policy and eventually move into public service as a federal employee specializing in policy analytics.