Have you ever heard a deaf person sing? If I suggest that it can bring tears to the eyes you may suspect mockery. Not quite. As the Choir at Christmas will testify.
Our children attended a primary school that included a special unit for hard of hearing pupils.
It was wonderful to see lively little ones larking about in the playground, firing off and receiving banter probably made up of cheeky insults using BSL – British Sign Language.
All the children in the school were encouraged to learn BSL and there was a healthy integration between those that had a hearing impairment and those that didn’t.
Extra information on American Sign Language is also available.
Choir at Christmas
At Christmastime the school put on a show. There was no hotter ticket in the area, and those volunteers who helped with costumes or set building earned a privilege akin to local royalty: best seats at the Christmas Concert.
Adorable little ones filed onstage, looking and sounding utterly angelic as they performed carols in costume. Of course as they rose in age they rose in competence. The nature of the admiration shifted from being beguiled by pure charm to appreciation of how well they could sing.
The packed audience of parents and grandparents were absolutely in the pockets of the choir at Christmas.
But nothing buckled sentiment’s resistance quite like deaf children, intent on the baton, delivering something close to a Christmas miracle.
If you didn’t understand the obstacle these plucky strivers had overcome, their ragged tilt at ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ would not have pleased the ear.
The corniest Hollywood script – a flawless performance, or even stupider, the end of the song resulting in deafness miraculously cured – could not have dismantled the emotions more.
Heart Warming Choir at Christmas
Bitten lips and hard swallows were to no avail. The Kleenex came out in flurries. Every eye fixed upon the little choir at Christmas, and every eye red-rimmed.
By the last note we were all bursting to clap and cheer; but we didn’t. Only the first timers didn’t know that anything audible was wasted approbation.
We all raised our hands and shook our palms in the air. The hard of hearing children drank it in with pride.
I’ve appreciated the whisky and socks, the jumpers and books that have revealed themselves from past Christmas wrapping.
The Blanche Nevile Special Unit’s carols at the Rhodes Avenue Primary School Christmas Concerts were and still are the gifts of the most lasting value.
Hark, the Herald Angels Sang.