STITES — Sitting in Otis and Pat Kittle’s living room where 100 chairs are arranged for the anticipated audience, one can’t miss the 180 degree view of the lush green hillside on Lamb Grade through the wall-to-wall windows. Cars begin arriving for “The Advent Hope Concert” on this Mother’s Day afternoon of May 14. The Deary Youth Bell Choir’s chimes and bells are arranged neatly along 33 feet of tables where the 15 musicians will play.
At 4 p.m., Otis Kittle welcomed a standing-room-only crowd to his home: “This is what my home is for.”
Director Tom Hunt introduced the concert’s theme of hope amid the world’s confusion and violence with the expectation of Christ’s second coming and ultimate kingdom of peace.
The next hour and a half included hymns with combinations of the bell choir, brass ensemble, two young flautists (Havah and Noah Lukens), cello player, and the pipe organ. Selections included the bell choir playing “God of Our Fathers” with the added dazzle of the five-man brass ensemble. The bell choir played “And Can It Be” and “Amazing Grace” merged into an inspiring medley. Cellist Benita Stafford soloed with the bells in a peaceful rendition of “He Leadeth Me”.
The musicians introduced each number with inspirational thoughts. Hunt shared a moving testimony of the devastating loss of his own son in an accidental drowning.
“I was angry,” he admitted. “God, how could you let this happen when my son loved you?” He then shared the poem his daughter wrote that restored his confidence. “We can trust God even when we can’t understand,” he said.
The concert concluded with the climactic anthem, “We Have This Hope,” arranged by Hunt’s son, Benjamin Hunt, which combined the bell choir, ensemble, pipe organ, Clearwater Valley Choir, and the audience.
As Peter Seheult played a postlude, Charles Marie Widor’s, “Toccata from Symphony V” on the pipe organ, the audience remained seated. Pipes that fill two stories of the house poured out palpable notes that vibrated the air as the organist’s feet reached over the pedals and his fingers kept up a furious pace on the three keyboards. When the last note had faded, enthusiastic applause erupted from the appreciative audience. No one was in a hurry to leave as they exchanged friendly greetings with one another on the way out.