News Story

Children’s Choir Sings for the President of Singapore

After 85 years Jamiyah Singapore, a Muslim missionary and welfare organization, invited a children's choir from a Christian Church to participate in one of its signature charity events in its calendar.

Invitation from Jamiyah accepted

When Ms Nora Rustham, Chairperson of the Women & Family Department of Jamiyah Singapore invited the children's choir of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to sing at its 26th Annual Exemplary Mother Award Ceremony, Singapore Stake President Jean Luc-Butel promptly accepted the invitation though no Stake Children's Choir has ever being organized. And the event was only 5 weeks away.


Never had a Stake Children's Choir before

Greg Petersen, Stake Music Chairman (former Bishop and Associate Professor of Humanities at NUS) was asked to organize the children's choir and get rehearsals going. Could a children's choir be organized to sing five unfamiliar songs in such a short time?

With faith, nobody acted like it couldn't be done. The response from parents and the children was overwhelming—more than 40 kids, from five to 13 years old, turned up for the first rehearsal.  

Children sing with their heart

Greg said, "There is a big difference between children and adults; most kids don't know what can't be done.  Children sing with their heart, and the result is pure joy. Adults can be more concerned with how they sound and how they are perceived. If adults can get beyond these barriers, they too can make a ‘joyful noise.'"

With children coming from ten different wards or congregations on Sunday afternoons, the choir managed with three rehearsals. "We were originally asked to sing five songs in three weeks. We scaled it down to three, then after trying one of the songs, told the organizers we could only pull off two: ‘The wind beneath my wings’ and ‘You raise me up'", Greg said.

President of Singapore as Guest of Honour

The guest of honour at the Exemplary Mother Award Ceremony was the President of Singapore, Madam Halimah Yacob. Stake President Butel said, "The guests at our VVIP table were extremely impressed by the children and their performance. One commented that the singing by the children was ‘the best gift for the mothers that day.’”

The President of Jamiyah, Dr. Mohd Hasbi bin Abu Bakar and Ms Nora Rustham, chair of the Organising Committee, were equally happy with the children's choir and expressed gratitude to the Church for its participation in the event.

Parents' Overwhelming Support

Bishop Jason Foo said, " My son has never been in a choir. The experience was uplifting and inspiring for him. I am glad that he could represent our Church in an event of this nature."

Another parent, Sister Ren Fen who has two daughters in the choir said, "The children brought a special spirit to the occasion to honour exemplary mothers. The timing of this event was not convenient for my two girls who were in the midst of their school examinations, but the choir performed spectacularly, given the little time they had for rehearsals. This confirms to me on how we have to exercise faith and do our best and the Lord will make up for what we lack."

Sister Sen Ledesma of the Bukit Timah Ward said, "It is always a pleasure and privilege for us to see our daughter, Khloe, develop and share her talents. We're very happy that she was able to participate in this children's choir, especially for such a special event where she can develop her understanding that she can help in the Lord's work by sharing her talents."

Choir Master said it was fun

Greg, the choirmaster summed it all, "It was very fun to work with the children and youth. Most came early for the rehearsals and were very enthusiastic, some with a little too much youthful energy that was difficult to contain at times! I couldn't be more pleased. They sang with so much spirit and heart and did what was asked to improve their singing quality. Everyone should be very pleased with their performance.”

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