Given my current vocation, it may not surprise you to learn that our college choir was an important part of my undergraduate experience. We were a pretty good group, and our director picked excellent music, representing a variety of periods and styles. As I began to get some choral repertoire under my belt, I noticed that I was particularly drawn to music with sacred and Biblical texts. It had for me a sense of profundity I didn't experience as much with our secular music. Coupled with this, in the spring of my sophomore year I took the Religion Department's Introduction to the Bible class. It was a revelation! Up until that time I had never given any thought to how the Bible became the Bible. Learning about the culture and worldview of the Biblical authors and characters brought it to life for me in a dramatic new way. Armed with this new bit of knowledge, the religious texts we were singing in choir now seemed to jump off the page. I was hooked, and now count this time as the beginning of my call into church music.
It was not that simple, of course. Had I not noticed an advertisement on the music bulletin board for a choir director at a church in northern Mississippi and contacted them, and if Scarritt Graduate School had not offered me a generous scholarship to pursue a Master's in Sacred Music/Choral Conducting, things could have turned out very differently. However, with over 20 years in the Presbyterian Church behind me, I now believe this was the plan all along.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
About the Contributor
Holt is the Music Director at First Presbyterian Church, where he and his wife Marcia oversee a program that includes eight choirs, the MorningSong worship service Music Team, and four First Steps classes for very young children and parents. Holt and Marcia are the proud parents of Carrie, a medical student in Columbia, SC, and Rafe, a musician/model in New York City.