Members of the Greenwood Singers sing at Nothing More Beautiful April 11.


Members of the Greenwood Singers sing at Nothing More Beautiful April 11.

April 22, 2013

When words fall short of expressing what is beautiful, music can rise to the occasion.

So it was that the Greenwood Singers came to Nothing More Beautiful April 11 to perform a selection of choral pieces from the rich tradition of sacred Christian music.

In his introduction to the evening, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith said beauty gives birth to the beautiful, and that Jesus is God's beauty incarnate.

"The unfolding through history of this relationship between Jesus and his Church has given rise to many instances of the beautiful that have over time shaped our western culture, such as art, literature and music," said Smith.

"Tonight, with the guidance of Edmonton's Greenwood Singers, we consider how the encounter with the beauty who is Christ has given birth to beautiful music."

The fourth event in this last year of the five-year Nothing More Beautiful series took a different tack from previous sessions, which had always featured speakers at an Evening Prayer service.

The focus this time was on the beauty of the Catholic faith as reflected in music.

"Throughout the history of the Church, singing has enhanced the liturgy, making it more beautiful, both aesthetically and spiritually," said music director Robert de Frece.

De Frece, a retired music professor at the University of Alberta, provided a music history lesson, either explaining why each song was composed or giving some insight into its composer.

Robert de Frece, a retired music professor, talks about one of the hymns.

Robert de Frece, a retired music professor, talks about one of the hymns.

The archbishop said sacred music is all about giving praise to Jesus, the one we love above all else, and who loves us beyond imagining.

"In the mystery of the Eucharist, his self-offering on the cross is made present to us on the sacred altar so that we might share in its saving power through Holy Communion," said Smith.

In the sacred liturgy we celebrate the joy of redemption, he said. What Christ accomplished on the cross is made present in the liturgy, and "gives rise within our hearts to sentiments of joy, gratitude, repentance, and awe that cannot be fully expressed in words alone."

Over the five years of Nothing More Beautiful, Monica Schinzel has only missed one evening.

"The music sounded very good, and I deliberately sit over there for that reason. I find the sound much better there," said Schinzel, from Assumption Parish.

"When you come to a place like this, you seem to get even more depth in your faith," she said.

Roseanna Ross, a parishioner at St. Thomas More Parish, was baptized Catholic as a child and was confirmed at Easter. She joined an RCIA group earlier this year, and has taken in the complete Nothing More Beautiful series this year.

Through Nothing More Beautiful, "It's been great learning a little more about what the Church wants us to preach, what we should talk about and how we should talk about our faith with our friends and the people we care about."

Through past sessions of Nothing More Beautiful, Ross has been "soaking up information" about the Church and learning more about how people integrate their faith into their daily lives.

Her only disappointment is that this is the final year, and she wishes she had been involved with it sooner.

"I think it's really beautiful," she said. "The music tonight was really inspiring."

The final Nothing More Beautiful session, Sent Forth to Evangelize, will be held Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m.