The European highlights came one after another during a spring break singing tour for Kobie Turner, ’21, a member of Schola Cantorum, the small chorus that has been singing on campus since 1971.

They sang at the Basilica di San Marco in Venice, the birthplace of polyphony. “When we performed there, we were able to perform in the same sacred space [as] our musical ancestors,” Turner wrote on a blog. He also soloed on “My God Is a Rock” by Moses Hogan, a song “dear to me since childhood,” he wrote.

But nothing during their five performances over seven days in Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia compared with singing the James Agee poem “Sure on This Shining Night” and a piece that began as a Gregorian chant, “Ubi Caritas.” A month before Turner sang them with his chorus friends in European cathedrals and amphitheaters, he sang them on campus at a memorial service for his football teammate Gus Lee, who died suddenly in December 2018.

The speaker of the Agee poem believes that “Kindness must watch for me” and holds out the promise of “hearts all whole.” The Latin lyrics of “Ubi Caritas” speak of charity and love and of “joy that is immense and good unto the world without end.” Singing these songs again in Europe helped Turner feel close to Lee.

“I felt as if I was taking his memory with me across the sea,” Turner wrote. “In the beginning of each of our concerts, I opened my folder, looked at a picture of him, and thought of him for a moment before I sang. And every time we sang ‘Sure on This Shining Night,’ I sang that song for him.”

Read Turner’s post-trip blog post and see photos here.