The Consoling Power of Christmas Carols

It had been a long time since the residents at the Hopkins Center for Rehabilitation & Healthcare in downtown Brooklyn attended a concert. So St. George's Choral Society members Laura Daly, Andrew McDonough, Johanna Goldberg, Blessing Agunwamba, and I brought music to them, offering a selection of Christmas songs on December 12.

 St. George's Choral Society members singing at Brooklyn's   Hopkins   Center   for Rehabilitation & Healthcare. Photo: Pawel Goralczyk.

St. George's Choral Society members singing at Brooklyn's Hopkins Center for Rehabilitation & Healthcare. Photo: Pawel Goralczyk.

We quickly realized that they also need to sing, as they straight away joined their voices with ours. Thus our performance turned out to be a very moving dialog, with our audience opening up their hearts as they requested special carols and sang with full voices.

I visit this nursing home every week, and sometimes—often—I don't know how to speak to my friends there, how to alleviate their suffering and their loneliness. But on that day, music was enough. And when we got to speak with our audience at the end of the concert, conversation flowed easily, because consolation had already happened. I was so moved to see my fellow singers from St. George's Choral Society stay one hour with these friends, introducing themselves in such a gentle way, getting to know their lives, and listening to them. We also visited a friend in her room and celebrated her birthday together. As she is paralyzed she could not come downstairs, but we gave her a little private Christmas concert. Her name? Carol.