Angel From the Realms of Glory
Posted by djafan on Monday, January 3, 2011
We had a clear view from the window of the Blue Lemon Café into Deseret Book across the street, still lit up and abuzz with activity. If a gap in the crowd had afforded it, we could have seen David Archuleta sitting there still, continuing to sign autographs while we took in a late dinner. Our little gathering consisted of me, Silverfox with her sister Hooked, Djafan, SandyBeaches and Marciami. With the exception of Marciami, I had just met everyone at the table for the first time that night. It is a surreal sensation when the tectonic plates of the virtual world slide into the real one. SandyBeaches was trying desperately to explain to us what she had witnessed that night in David’s performance. In the end she was left to simply repeat the refrain, “You do not know this man. There is no way to even describe what he did.” Yet all around the table, everyone continued to try to describe to Djafan and me what we were in for on the following evening. Their excitement was contagious and we were all so captivated by the discussion that we lost track of time until the lights of the restaurant flickered off and on to signal to us that it was time to go. On a nearby corner we said goodnight and went our separate ways. I was the only one staying at my hotel but it was less than a block away. I turned to see them still standing vigil on the corner till I was almost there.
It had started to snow, tiny flakes spinning rapidly in the air as they plunged toward me. In years to come, I will remember that weekend in Salt Lake this way: as a flurry of images and feelings rushing at me like whirling snowflakes, some dissolving on contact, others remaining intact to stay in my memory forever.
I remember…entering Deseret Book shortly after checking into my hotel to meet Djafan for the first time and gathering her up in the biggest hug! Climbing the stairs to the second floor of the Thaifoon restaurant to the joyful noise of over a hundred excited fans all talking at once. More hugs and warm greetings from so many again, some I had met before but most for the first time. Sipping hot cocoa from a paper cup at Deseret Book while waiting in a line that slowly wound around bookshelves and meeting and hugging and talking with so many more fans. Oh the fans, as Dr. Seuss would say, the fans, fans, fans, fans, fans! So many that even when I rounded the corner to where he sat it was impossible to catch a glimpse of him until I was almost to him. And suddenly, there he was, just come from the stage and glowing as though lit from within by that same Presence that had been with him there, and that lingered with him still.
The next night I was sitting in the massive Conference Center with twenty-one thousand others when he strode onto the stage impeccably attired in a tux accessorized with green plaid vest and tie. Like my dinner companions the previous night, I have difficultly describing what occurred. After each song he would leave the stage to thunderous applause. Each time he was spotted walking back on from stage right, something akin to an electrical charge emanated from him and coursed through the entire theater. And that was before he ever sang. To say that he was confident would be an understatement. He was not only self-possessed, he took total possession of the stage whenever he stood on it. He was filled to the brim with a buoyant charisma and a joy born of the Spirit that was palpable. Surely place played a factor in this city where prophets and apostles walk and angels tread behind veils so thin their whispers are carried on the wind that courses through this mountain valley. As he sang with such love and tenderness of the birth of the baby Jesus, the windows of his beautiful soul sparkled. I can not even describe the magnificent heights he reached. It is too much to capture in words. Only the music can tell the story and only David could make you understand it so well.
Each song was a work of art that was constructed to build and build to a breathless crescendo. Every single song ended in a final note that was magnificent. Unbelievable. Other-worldly. The final “His birth” from the Cat and the Mouse Carol, the glorious “deo” from Angels from the Realms of Glory, that soared far above all other voices and instruments competing with him on that climactic ending. The exultant Spanish carol, A Pastores A Belen, in which he smilingly channels the jubilation of laughing, running shepherds ending with a rousing “la!” as he thrusts the mic up in the air over his head with a snap that left my heart pounding out of my chest! And finally coming to the end of Silent Night, standing perfectly still, he produced that seemingly effortless, ethereal “at Thy birth.” He just opened his mouth and the word “birth” issued from him and kept flowing and moving further and further outward until it hung shimmering in the air, a bluish-gold incandescent tone straight from the heart of eternity.
I remember…an elaborate storybook stage setting, dancers cavorting, bells ringing, heavenly voices singing, the tender soliloquies of Sir Michael York, the majestic organ solo. These images spin and collide with those of warm hugs and warmer conversations, lights of red, gold and blue, chicken satay and crème brulee and cocoa in a paper cup.
In the morning I would return to see him perform each song again, flawlessly. And that evening I would gather all these swirling images, like great armfuls of snow, and carry them home.