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Resurrection Choir through the eyes of one devoted member

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When guests visit the Church of the Resurrection in Bond Hill for Mass, a funeral or a wedding, they often ask, “Is the music like this every week? I have to come back here.”

The 18-25 member choir brings classical music, traditional hymns, anthems and Gospel tunes to the sanctuary each week, directed by David Fowler and accompanied by a regular drummer and occasional bass guitarist.

The dynamic choir strives to move the congregation to deeper prayer, explained Rita Winters, one of the choir’s longest tenured and most faithful members. “That’s what’s important to me, that we move people and they want to come back.”

Winters grew up in a musical home–her father had albums of every music genre, she took violin lessons until high school and the family often attended the opera, symphony and ballet. However, singing was the habit that stuck. “I’m that child who danced around the living room singing at the top of my lungs,” she laughed.

She began singing at St. Agnes School as a child, left and later joined the adult choir at 21, when she married (now Deacon) Royce and settled into the parish. Bringing music to life continued through the parish’s merger into Resurrection Parish 12 years ago.

“I’ve been through many music directors, obviously, because I’ve been singing the entire time,” she said. Winters has sung at many churches–including the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains–sings for funerals and weddings and enjoys sharing her gifts with the Cincinnati Music Theater and other groups.

“What’s interesting [with] all the music directors, you are always learning,” she said. “They bring different music, gifts and talents to the table, so it’s exciting. They’re pretty diverse so you never know what will happen.”

Winters’ first voice teacher and music director at Resurrection was the late Dr. James Moore, a Black Catholic composer, singer and choir director who directed music at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary & School of Theology in the 1970’s. He eventually shared his music around the globe. It was he who encouraged her to join the Athenaeum Chorale at its inception.

At Resurrection, Winters said, “Total Praise” and “Order My Steps” are two congregation favorites that bring them to their feet in worship. “I don’t care how many times we sing these songs, the congregation gets quite excited.”

Everyone in the choir can suggest music, and Fowler will train members who want to lead a song, cantor or have a solo. Winters’ goal is to minister through song so that it makes a difference for at least one person who is listening.

“When you are ministering in song, it might not be a song that moves you, but it moves somebody out there… You sing from your heart what the words of that song are trying to convey, and you don’t know what that can mean to someone else. People tell me that all the time.”

The congregation gives back to her by responding, she said. “I might look out and there’s one person connecting to me while I’m singing, and that means a lot to me, that moves me, so it’s a give and take.”

Music tugs at the heart in a way that spoken word doesn’t, Winters shared. “All I do is sing from my heart. I go into the zone, I don’t know what happens. It’s all a gift from God, of song, and all I do is think about the words, what they mean to me, sing it to the best of my ability and try to feel it and open myself up. I don’t worry [if ] I miss a note. I just start praying through song in hope.”

This article appeared in the March 2023 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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