Guggenmusik in the Cape
The Swiss festival merriment of impromptu music-making was the focus of a summer evening gathering of church members on July 9, turning Hunts Point Road in the Cape into a parade of singing, drum-banging, tamborine-shaking, flute-tooting and maracas-jingling.
It was a heartfelt, creative interpretation of Psalm 100: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing.”
And in His presence, there was singing . . . and much more.
Organized by the Rev. Ruth Morrison and hosted by Margaret and Mark Braun, the evening began inside Mark and Margret’s home with the singing of hymns and camp songs, accompanied by a variety of instruments — some traditional, some not.
It all was in keeping with the Swiss custom of Guggenmusik — singing and making music any way possible while wearing carnival masks. Mark Braun’s family roots stretch deep into Switzerland and on this night, Mark introduced the Swiss tradition to our church family.
One of the most creative moments of the evening came when the Rev. Morrison transformed a badminton net into a musical score and handed each member of the gathering a cut-out musical note. Everyone was then asked to attach their note to the score in a random manner.
When all of the notes were in place, music magician Stephen Bither was asked to play the score on the piano. Stephen at first played the basic notes in a melody, but with each replaying of the melody, he added new layers of accompaniment until the group’s random notes became a jazzy song. It was music magic — no doubt!
Throughout the evening, more instruments were added to each selected hymn or song, creating what only The Lord would probably consider a “joyful noise.”
When everyone was comfortable with the essence of Guggenmusik and the joyful noises they were making inside, the merriment moved outside as a parade down Hunts Point Road.
In place of the masks usually worn at a Guggenmusik event, most participants on this evening wore hats of all shapes, sizes and designs while parading down the street, serenading unsuspecting neighbors.
By the end of the evening, it wasn’t sure if the group had accomplished the goal of fulfilling John Wesley’s guide for singing Methodists:
Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature.
But it sure was a good effort!
Thank you to the Rev. Ruth Morrison and Mark and Margaret Braun for organizing this fun-filled evening of Guggenmusik in the Cape.
Click here for a few more images of the music-making: