Singers perform at “All Things Bright and Beautiful” choral concert

Biola Chorus and Chorale praise the Lord through a selection of songs.


Haven Luper-Jasso//CHIMES

Biola’s choral groups unite to sing a variety of pieces at the choral concert.

Patricia Yang, Staff Writer

The lights flickered thrice, signaling the beginning of the performance. A hush settled over the audience. Then from the sides, the choir walked in — single-file, dressed in black — onto the stage. The conductor waved his hand, and they broke into song. Thus began Biola’s choral concert, “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

The “All Things Bright and Beautiful” choral concert was a collaborative performance by Biola’s two choral groups: Biola University Chorus and the Biola Chorale, directed by Dr. John Tebay and Dr. Shawna Stewart, respectively.


Elizabeth Meinders, a senior commercial music major and Biola Chorale’s president, said the repertoire was selected to fit the Chorale’s year’s theme of Seen and Known. 

“There are different categories for all the pieces Chorale was singing,” Meinders said. “It’s the idea that we’re seen and known in these different aspects of life.” 

Many of the songs were based on Psalms and liturgical texts, such as “Agnus Dei,” arranged by Ernesto Herrera, and “Exsultate Justi in Domino” by Andreas Hackengerger. 

“[They’re] telling this story of, this theme of wanting to reach out to people and see them … and to know them, and to show people they are known and loved not just by us, but by God,” Meinders said.

Head of composition and acting chair for the music department Robert Denham composed the song “Am I Invisible,” one of the pieces selected in the Seen and Known theme. The song, originally composed around three years ago for Biola Chorale, was most likely delayed in performance due to COVID-19, but was finally sung in “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

Denham’s “Am I Invisible” was based on a poem by Kevin Folger, Meinders said. She explained that it was a poem about homelessness, challenging the typical view on homelessness and homeless people.

The musical form itself uses a lot of rubato, the pushing and pulling of the tempo, leaving it fluid and free to be shaped, which creates uncertainty and tension in the piece. It also included drastic dynamics — shifting between loud and soft volumes — as well as dissonance, the disharmony of notes.

“There’s something that makes you a little uncomfortable, and I think it’s very intentional … it makes you think about [the topic],” Meinders said.


Meinders said she was really touched by the song Agnus Dei, sung in Latin. The lyrics roughly translate to: “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Grant us peace.”

“I am currently in the class of Jesus’ Life and Ministry, and we have talked a lot about the grace of God, and what it means to be living, receiving that grace daily,” Meinders said. In this particular arrangement, Meinders, who sang alto, primarily sang on one note for the beginning portions of the song, repeating one line multiple times. 

“Dr. Stewart challenged us to think, every time you sing that, think of a different sin that you’re getting grace for,” Meinders said. “A couple times I just cried singing it. To sing [these lines], and to be singing at a university where we believe what we’re saying, and to sing this beautiful choral piece as worship — especially when I’m thinking so much about grace and what it means to be forgiven, and what it means to be living in daily grace that is new every morning — it was really powerful.”

Meinders finds music as a means of coming closer to God.

“As someone who has been surrounded by music for her entire life… I definitely feel things deeply in relation to music,” Meinders said. “[Music] has really helped me know what it feels like to come to God and come aware that I am in need of mercy, and to ask for it and to receive it and to sit in the knowledge that He loves me that much to give me grace.”

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