The Joyful Noise Children’s Choir recently celebrated its 40th anniversary at West End Christian Reformed Church in Edmonton, Alta., with a Saturday evening concert and participation in Sunday morning worship. Fifty-three children from ages 7 to 14 and 57 alumni of the choir participated. The weekend celebration included the opening of a time capsule containing mementos and letters participants wrote on the occasion of the choir’s 30th anniversary.
Joyful Noise has had one director for its 40-year history. Rein Selles was inspired to start a choir when he and his wife, members of West End CRC, were on their honeymoon in Hawaii in 1978. They saw a children’s choir from a local church performing in a mall. Not long after that, Selles started Edmonton’s Joyful Noise Choir with a group of 17 children.
Today the average size of the choir is around 50 children representing 19 churches and nine denominations. Over the past 40 years, 669 children have participated. Selles estimates they have taken part in 225 church services. Several alumni are parents of current choir members. Irene Wadman sang in the choir as a child, and now her 10-year-old twin boys, Evan and Matthew, are in the choir, “It’s a wonderful thing,” she said, “praising and worshiping God in community across generations.”
Joyful Noise has been a special blessing to Rehoboth Christian Ministries, an association in Alberta that supports individuals with mental and physical disabilities. For decades, Joyful Noise has raised funds for Rehoboth through concerts, sales of their recordings (they have released several CDs), and through offerings received when participating in church services.
Kevin Debree, Rehoboth Camp program manager, described an aspect of the relationship. “The Joyful Noise Choir and Camp Rehoboth have established a fantastic partnership over the years. Because of the choir's efforts, we have been able to keep costs low for our campers. Over the next few years we are hoping to rebuild some new cabins that are more accessible and comfortable for persons with disabilities and their families.”
“No one ever begins something with the thought that it would continue for 40 years,” reflected Selles, 69. “Yet as long as children kept coming and asking to sing, there was a need and purpose to continue making a joyful noise.” About his plans for the future he said, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I already have two children waiting for next season. I don’t think I want to disappoint them.”