"We Sing That They Shall Speak" - More than just a song!
The motto of the Northland Barbershop Chorus has long been: "We Sing That They Shall Speak." We sing a song by the same name at the close of every rehearsal. The lyrics of this song remind us regularly of our responsibility to use our vocal abilities to help those who struggle with communicative disorders:
"We sing that they shall speak, the lips in silence bound.
"We sing that young hearts everywhere may thrill to joy new found,
"May learn to know and tell the love they now in silence seek.
We sing to free each youthful soul.
"We sing that they shall speak."
Through their annual support of the Speech-Language Pathology Unit of Sault Area Hospital (SAH), the Northland Chorus is proud of their record of assisting those in our community for whom stroke, cancer, head injury or other ailments have robbed the ability to communicate. Since first identifying the cause of Speech and Communicative Disorders as our service project in 1995, the Northland Chorus has donated $89,000 as of 2017 in keeping with their motto. All of these funds have been drawn from the proceeds of our annual show. A cheque is presented on stage each year at our annual spring show to a Speech Pathologist working at Sault Area Hospital.
To see how you can help with this effort, please visit our support page.
Beginning in 2009, the Chorus (many of whose members reside on the U.S. side) expanded their efforts to include annual donations to the Speech Pathology Department at War Memorial Hospital in Sault, Michigan.
Why Do We Support Speech-Language Pathology?
On March 26, 2011, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary Annual Show celebrating the founding of the Northland Chorus in 1961, we invited Speech Pathologist Alana MacIntyre to address our show audience to explain the genesis of our long association with the cause of funding speech pathology.
Here is the text of Alana's speech given that night:
“In the winter of 1995, I was working as a Speech-Language Pathologist at Sault Area Hospital. I had a patient who had suffered a brain stem stroke and could only move his eyes. He did not have the necessary funds to purchase an eye-gaze board, a clear fibreglass board which would allow him to communicate. The price of this augmentative device was $30.
“Through my travels and experiences, I had heard of other Barbershop groups and their motto: “We Sing That They Shall Speak”. I looked up the local group and contacted their music director, Bob Shami. I explained the situation and asked if they could donate the $30. Within days we received $100, with instructions to buy three eye-gaze boards! What seemed like a small act of kindness provided the only means of communication to a man who had been suffering in silence.
“With this single act of kindness, the Northland Chorus began a long and benevolent relationship with the Sault Area Hospital Speech Department. Since 1995, they have quietly donated over $50,000 to this department. These funds have allowed the purchase of equipment that enables patients to remain in our community to receive the medical and rehabilitative care that is necessary.
“Since they occasionally perform in Sault Michigan, they have recently developed a similar relationship with the War Memorial Speech and Hearing department. By returning performance income earned in that community back to the community, they are keeping local money local! They are amazing ambassadors for our community!
“It is important to realize that the Northland Chorus is not a service club. They do not actively fund raise. The money they donate to the Hospital comes primarily from the surplus they earn at this show.
“I hope I have expressed my extreme gratitude and utmost respect for this group of men. They have taken a keen interest in the people in our community who are without a voice. If it were not for them, so many would be left in silence.”
Alana MacIntyre, Speech-Language Pathologist, March 26, 2011
Following Alana's comments, Sault Area Hospital Speech Pathologist Katie Kennedy arrived on stage to receive the Chorus's annual donation. Katie made these comments in accepting:
"Good evening. First of all, we would like to congratulate the Northland Barbershop Chorus on their receipt of the 2010 Sault Ste Marie Medal of Merit honour as well as on their 50th Anniversary.
"As always, we would like to thank the Northland Barbershop Chorus and you, the audience, for your ongoing support of the Sault Area Hospital's Speech-Language Pathology Department. As a small department within the hospital which only provides service to a small percentage of the people who walk through the Sault Area Hospital's doors, we have a budget that doesn't allow for extravagant purchases, particularly in these times of tight budget constraints. The donations of the Northland Chorus enable us to ensure that each person in our community who has suffered either from strokes, head injuries or from a variety of degenerative diseases which may affect their ability to communicate and swallow has access to equipment that is often only found in larger centres.
"The Northland Barbershop Chorus truly lives their motto: We sing that they shall speak. On behalf of those who cannot say it themselves, thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
Katie Kennedy, Speech-Language Pathologist, March 26, 2011