Choir brings Hispanic sisters closer together

The sisters met each other with hugs and warm greetings of "Buenos tardes." Some came from Mexico, others were born in Spain, Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Uruguay or Chile. But all of the women, who originally met in borrowed quarters above a music store in Murray, Utah, share two things in common: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Spanish language.

Musician Martha Chavez is ward choir director of the Murray 2nd Ward and also directs this women's choir comprised of Spanish-speaking Relief Society sisters. The women began together in the Lucero Ward, which was divided in 1993. Now they are members of the Murray 2nd Ward. More than 30 women, many who were in that original group above the music store, meet each Sunday afternoon for choir practice in the Murray 2nd Ward meetinghouse in the Murray Utah Stake."None of these sisters reads music," said Sister Chavez. "But they want to develop their voices and find a deeper appreciation of music. And this is a great opportunity to learn the songs from the new hymn book," she said.

The choir has been singing together since August 1992 and supplements the regular ward choir.

Sister Chavez has been teaching music for 15 years and recorded an album of Spanish versions of Janice Kapp Perry's music. "My Mother, My Daughter," a Perry song translated into Spanish, was sung by the choir on Mother's Day in the Lucero Ward and also at the Murray 12th Ward.

The sisters have prepared the song "Canto de Testimonio" for performance in Relief Society programs and for sacrament meeting. "I love this song in Spanish," said Sister Chavez. "The Latin vowels lend themselves to more meaning in the sound. There's lots of depth, lots of feeling," she said.

Translating into English, Sister Chavez explained the meaning of the song, "I know there is a God and He loves me. I know that His son Jesus Christ gave His life for me. This is a song of love and faith and testimony."

Sister Chavez considers the five Spanish-speaking wards in Salt Lake City a lifeline to Hispanic members. "My opinion is that these wards provide a place of comfort to people who are coming to a whole new culture, a new language. There is culture shock. But people can come here and be with their own while they make that transition. We are sharing each other's cultures anyway. The Relief Society teaches English as a second language. We have several sisters in the choir who are not Hispanic but who love the culture and the language," she said.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed