Skip to main content

American River Messenger

Threshold Choir Provides Healing Comfort

Oct 27, 2023 03:37PM ● By Thomas J. Sullivan

A circle of singers calling themselves the Threshold Choir gather to rehearse and gently blend their voices together at Bannister Park in Fair Oaks, Calif. Photo courtesy of Threshold Choir

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - In a world where all of life’s thresholds may be honored with compassion and shared through song, the members of the Sacramento Threshold Choir help bring comfort and peace at a tender stage of life.

On Friday mornings in Bannister Park in Fair Oaks, situated under a canopy of tall trees, a circle of singers gather to rehearse and gently blend their voices together in song.

Choir members were recently invited to sing at the annual Bristol Hospice of Sacramento memorial service, Thursday, October 19th at the Citrus Heights Community Center.

The annual service was the second year in which Threshold Choir members were able to participate in person, as state restrictions of both bedside and in-person singing were fully lifted following the pandemic.

Their selected songs, “My Grateful Heart”, “Dear One”, “Toward the Stars/Walking Each Other Home” and “Keep a Candle Burning” reflected a program theme of remembering departed loved ones from a heart of gratitude.

The comforting songs which they sing outdoors in Bannister Park under a bright blue sky are the very same ones they will sing at bedsides and in hospice environments when they are asked to do so, explains Threshold Choir member Marnie St. Clair of Fair Oaks. She has been a Threshold Choir member since April 2016.

“In all, we have about 22 official members in the Sacramento chapter. Fifteen are active members who also attend Wednesday Zoom sessions and meet weekly at Bannister Park in Fair Oaks each Friday.

 Marnie St Clair choir member of the Threshold Choir. Courtesy photo

Local choir members hail from throughout the Sacramento region including Rocklin, Fair Oaks, Rancho Cordova, Gold River, Citrus Heights and Elk Grove, she said.

“It is a great honor to be of service to our clients and their families and caregivers during a tender stage of life. The opportunity to provide comfort and peace is a great motivation for our Threshold Choir singers,” St. Clair said.

Singers consider the thoughtful period of silence in between each of the songs they sing, just as important as each individual song they choose to sing, St. Clair said.

What gives St. Clair the most personal satisfaction as a member of Threshold Choir? The answer is twofold, she explains.

“We make friends, and our singing, is deepened by the work which we do together,” she said.

“When we blend our voices, we often find that we’re singing the very songs we’ve just rehearsed to ourselves as we walk away from rehearsal. It’s a personal form of comfort for ourselves.”

The Sacramento chapter is welcoming compassionate singers to join their group, St. Clair said.

“If you feel called to offer this gift (to others), we encourage you to give us a call, send us an email message or come to a rehearsal,” she said.

Member Julie Jones moved to Citrus Heights from coastal Pacifica where she was a member of the Coastside Threshold Choir. When she moved to Citrus Heights, she discovered the Sacramento chapter and has been a regular participant ever since.

“It has greatly uplifted my spirits being able to sing in a very supportive group,” she said.

As of 2023, there were more than 200 chapters of the Threshold Choir worldwide according to their website. Each Threshold Choir chapter is firmly rooted in its own local community while also being an important part of a shared community as an international non-profit organization.

The members of Threshold Choir all sing from the same repertoire and share their experiences at regional and international gatherings, St. Clair said. Choir members also know they are welcome at rehearsals and gatherings outside their area and often make plans to visit when traveling.

“We celebrate these songs as paths to multi-cultural sensitivity and friendship, as doorways for sharing the joy and pain of world events, and as windows into meaning from our own history,” wrote Threshold Choir founder Kate Munger in describing its general purpose.

“We also stay in touch by email, newsletter, video meetings, and through this website. Most important, of course, we share a culture of compassion and respect for individuals at the threshold,” St. Clair said.

To request singing, or learn more about Threshold Choir, call the Sacramento chapter at (916) 596-9415 or email them at [email protected].