By David D. Hambleton


            It was my extreme pleasure to spend Sunday evening at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth.  At 6:00pm Chesapeake Public Schools’ Department of Music Education presented Western Branch High School’s Choral Music Department performing a Holiday Concert. 

What a show it was!  Conductor Nick Nespoli is to receive due credit for the discipline, timing, and artful use of the elusive element of silence with his nearly 100-student group.  Pianist George Stone played a solid and well-ordered backdrop for the young voices to shine from.  And shine, they did.  The great praise goes to the enthusiastic students who sang a great concert for us.  Their talent, training, and temperance paid off for the hundreds who were more than entertained by the program. 

Having spent the last six years in Europe listening to and participating in producing some of the travelling choral groups there, I was truly amazed and inspired by this presentation – an on a couple of levels.  Amazed, I was, at the vocal preparedness, the raw ability demonstrated by this group of young people – and even more so to learn they had only three weeks to learn and prepare this offering.  Inspiring was the enthusiasm of these kids to perform, and not just to perform any music, but this music…

Maestro Nespoli told me after the concert, “We could never do this program in Norfolk Public Schools.”  You see, I was inspired – and tearful most of the concert – to hear Jesus Christ proclaimed from opening to close of the concert.  Their excitement was apparent in the Parish Hall afterward by the same kids who’d just sung it.  It is Christmas season in Portsmouth, and Jesus is the reason.

We are a Christian nation, founded by Christian people here on this very land where we now stand.  We have a great history of tolerance for religious freedom and I encourage and support that pillar of our republic.  It is our Judeo-Christian morality and work ethic coupled with that tolerance that have given us the economic prowess to become the most powerful nation in the world – even in our relative infancy.  It is our responsibility to teach our children about the spiritual heritage we have in this country – and not just the vile parts like Salem’s witch trials.  There are many more, and more consistent stories, of our nation’s faithful people thriving and becoming great and being benevolent under God and in His service.  This concert showed me that we have not lost that grail.

I have two daughters and am concerned about our education system.  I listen to what news we get overseas.  And I take newsletters from Hillsdale College ( ) and The Eagle Forum ( to balance the unspoken but too obvious liberal slant of the CNN reporting that we receive.  These newsletters chronicle, from conservative perspective, the dismantling of our education system by the very institutions we put in place to support it.  The sad news, spoken or unspoken, from all these sources, is that our heritage is being stripped from our public schools. 

The popular flavors of Outcome-Based Education (by other names, of course) and the dogmatic teaching of unfounded theories of evolution exclusive of Creation (which makes itself more apparent the more responsible scientists study it with open minds) have become the rule of the day.  This concert shows me that Christ is alive and well in our public schools – at least where concerned parents and citizens have remained in touch with their schools and involved with their kids’ education process. 

What a wonderful Christmas gift I have received.  I will return to Europe without so much concern about my eventual return to the USA with two school-aged daughters. 

To the staff and students of Western Branch, and the hosts at St. John’s Episcopal Church, I say a hearty thank-you.  God bless and keep you this glorious season and throughout the year.  You have given me hope in this season, and you have faithfully spread the good news of our eternal hope.  May that hope lift up and sustain you, the reader, and bring you ever closer to the Christ of Christmas.