By Anne Eickstadt


As the sun set on Sunday, Nov. 20, the Spirit of Life Chorus performed a concert at First Presbyterian Church of Belvidere. This free program featured music which honored those who have served in the military and reflected on the sacrifices that the men and women in military service have made to bring peace to the world.

The choral group then focused their songs on the joy and wonder of the birth of Jesus Christ who was born to bring peace to men on Earth.

Once the group filled the sanctuary at the front of the church, the colors were presented by a member of the local American Legion and Pastor Bob Kopp welcomed everyone and opened in prayer.

The chorus opened with “The Star Spangled Banner,” by Francis Scott Key, before moving onto “I Pledge Allegiance” by Rebecca J. Peck, who was named the 2015 Professional Songwriter of the Year at the AGM Awards in Nashville, Tenn.

The speaker of the group then offered a prayer for America followed by “God Bless America” with soloist Jim Sather.

The concert continued with “When Johnnie Comes Marching Home Again,” to remind the audience of soldiers returning from battle with celebratory parades and rejoicing.

The Spirit of Life Chorus then performed “This is America” featuring a mix of the United States military service songs, including the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force. All veterans in attendance were invited to stand and be recognized as their service played.

The concert commenced with “God Bless America” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

After the performance, the audience heard the story of the World War I Christmas truce in 1914 as a British soldier began to sing “Silent Night” in the cold, dark trenches on Christmas Eve. His refrain was returned in German from another trench.

As the reciting of the story occurred, the lights in the church were turned off to help the audience experience the likeness of the cold, dark night.

The choir sang one line from the song in English, and then repeated it in German throughout the entire song.

The lights came back up again and two barbershop quartets sang “Mary was the First One to Carry the Gospel,” by Mark Lowry; “O Holy Night;” Glory to God in the Highest;” “Jesus Can Change Your Life,” and “The Christmas Star.”

After the concert, audience members could enjoy sandwiches and desserts with the Spirit of Life Chorus members.

“I joined the chorus 17 years ago and took over as director seven years ago,” Director Marc Stiehr said. “We are a volunteer organization. We have performed 16 concerts a year – eight in the spring and eight in the fall – with different programs. Now we have decided to only perform in the fall.”

The Spirit of Life Chorus began in the fall of 1989 with a group of 17 singers. Now, a group of about 75 members travel throughout northern Illinois presenting spiritually uplifting and patriotic songs. They always are looking for more singers.

If you are interested in joining the chorus or would like to be notified of upcoming concerts, please visit www.spiritoflifechorus.org.

First Presbyterian Church of Belvidere is located 221 N. Main St. in Belvidere. For more information, visit their Facebook page or go to: www.belvpresbyterian.org.

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