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'Threshold Choir' Performs Songs Of Comfort For People Near The End

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - What would your soundtrack be at the end?

The pain and sorrow that comes with the end of a life can be too much to handle at times. But a group of singers in the Twin Cities get together for that very purpose.

The Morning Star Singers are what is known as a "threshold choir," a group of singers that literally comfort someone who's on his or her deathbed.

Group founder Barbara McAfee says they sing for people in poor health, people who are depressed and those who are nearing the end of life.

Morning Star Singers

"Our mission, or aim, is to bring songs of comfort and healing to people who are facing some kind of adversity," McAfee said.

Eighty-nine-year-old Jim Lenarz, who's been a singer since he was just a little boy, is in assisted living. He not only welcomes the Morning Star Singers, he joins in.

"It's kind of magical," Lenarz said. "Singing soothes the soul."

McAfee formed the group in 2008, inspired in part by a similar threshold choir in the San Francisco area, as well as by other experiences she's had with using her vocal talents in difficult moments.

"There was always someone turning to me in those moments when we couldn't bear it, and saying, 'Barbara, do you have a song?'" she said.

The group is now 45 members strong. Morning Star Singer Linda Burgh recalls a friend who was nearing the end who found comfort and answers in a song.

"She was finding her pathway to death through the words," Burgh said. "And she started listening, and all of a sudden she was different."

McAfee says at times she's questioned the pleasure she takes in providing the service.

"I have to say, I often wonder if it's alright that we feel so good," she said. "Because people think, 'Oh you're going to be with people who are ill, or who are dying. Isn't that a downer?' And it isn't."

McAfee says we are all on the same path, and that path continues even after our time here on earth is over.

The songs that the singers share are not only to add comfort as we near the end, but to prepare us for that new day.

Click here for more information on the Morning Star Singers, or call 612-721-1914.

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