I am sitting in a concert hall, waiting for the performance to begin, I am not sure who or what it is, but the audience is well-dressed and well behaved. Directly in front of me is a mother and her two small sons, both in the five-to-eight age range. They are restless and she suggests they sing a song – softly – to keep them occupied until the curtain goes up. They choose “Down To the River To Pray”.
It starts with just the two of them, hesitantly, in the pure, crystalline, self- conscious- yet- completely- open manner of young children:
“As I went down to the river to pray…”
The people around them turn and look for a moment, then join in. Quietly, not at all professional, but with the same purity and clarity of voice. With each word, each line, more join in.
“O brothers lets go down
Let’s go down, Come on down
O brothers lets go down
Down in the river to pray”
By the end of the second verse the entire audience, hundred of people, are singing this simple, beautiful song. The performers come to the edge of the stage and join in
At the last lines of the song this moment has become one of perfect beauty; these two young children are the seeds, the nexus of something extraordinary, which never happened and will never be repeated.