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An isolationist’s Psalm, by the Quarantine Choir

J-P Mauro - published on 03/31/20

Four musicians write Psalm 151 with coronavirus theme.

It is theorized that if you were to put 1,000 monkeys in a room with 1,000 typewriters, then, on an infinite timeline, eventually they will write Hamlet. Well, we can’t speak for the monkeys, but we now have proof that if you put just four Christian singers into isolation for a few weeks, they will rewrite the Psalms in hilarious fashion.

Calling themselves the “Quarantine Choir”, this small group of friends have come up with an incredibly charming way to pass the time: writing new Psalms with the modern theme of isolation. The lyrics are really smart and cover some of the most common tropes of this unprecedented time of worldwide social distance. They begin:

“O Lord, to whom ǀ hygiene be longeth: Hear the cry of thy servants when they call. For we lie in self-isolation: And there is nothing on TV. For lo, the nation is adrift: The princes of the people have cast us from the pub. Thy people do run about the shops in panic: They stockpile all the loo roll and the bakèd beans.”

In an interview with Charles Collins, of CruxNow, the group explained that the idea arose when they realized their good fortune of finding themselves locked in a house with fellow music lovers, and just enough to make a chamber choir:

“It started off as a bit of fun between the four of us, and while we thought it might bring a little comfort and laughter to a small audience of our Facebook friends,” Burbela told Crux, explaining the origin of the video. “I don’t think any of us expected so many thousands of people to see it!”

The Quarantine Choir is composed of four musicians who all wound up bunkered down together for their social isolation. John and Roxanne Gull are both professional music teachers and their companions in their self-quarantine are Francesca Burbela and Chris Haim, students at the University of Birmingham.

As they had no access to their usual church choir robes, they used their bathrobes instead, noting that it was not only fitting to the theme of staying at home, but also extremely comfortable.

They went on to explain that the group has decided that they will record at least one piece of music each week during the coronavirus quarantine, with the express purpose of giving the faithful a taste of this much-needed form of prayer and meditation: church music.

John Gull told CruxNow:

“Churches are currently closed, and congregations not able to meet, so we thought a little devotional music for meditation might bring churchgoers a little breath of comfort in the dark and difficult days, weeks and months ahead,”

The mock-Psalm is incredibly well done in both lyrics and music. Their singing is top-notch and you almost wouldn’t realize that both men are tenors. Between the four of them, they produce a sound that would have even the finest church choir envious and they sing together like a group that’s been together much longer than a few weeks.

The Quarantine Choir have stated that they intend to continue their work. Not all their music is satirical, in fact they have already released a recording of “Abide with Me,” sung by Francesca Burbela (featured below), and it is a beautiful performance of the unaltered hymn.

As the weeks of social isolation may begin to turn into months, we can’t wait to see what they release next.

CoronavirusHymnSacred Music
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