By Ron VandenBoom
It was an unexpected and emotional moment when members of the St. Johns Boys Choir took a moment to sing Lord Bless You and Keep You to Pauline and Clayton Codden for their 50th wedding anniversary Tuesday at the BNSF Depot in Havre.
I got tears in my eyes, said Clayton Codden after the impromptu performance.
Pauline Codden said she felt excited by it all and admitted that she too got misty-eyed listening to the choir.
I think its just great that the boys could come here and perform for us a little bit I think it was awfully nice, she said. Especially when youve got somebody in there (the choir) it makes it doubly nice.
The Coddens grandson, Donny Codden, who is a member of the St. Johns Choir.
The choir, which is based in St. Cloud, Minn., has a national reputation and is currently on tour through the Northwest and Canada. They arrived in Havre on the westbound Amtrak where they were to transferred to a bus for a trip from Havre to Great Falls.
A concert is scheduled for Wednesday at the First United Methodist Church in Great Falls at 7 p.m.
From Great Falls the choir is scheduled to go to Helena for a noon concert before going to Missoula for an evening show.
From Montana they will travel to Seattle and to Vancouver B.C. before returning to Portland and a swing out to the coast.
It was serendipitous luck that brought the Codden anniversary surprise together.
The Interim Director of the choir, Elizabeth Eickhoff, happens to be a Great Falls native and 1984 graduate of Great Falls High School.
It was her idea to bring the choir to her old stomping ground of Montana for some concerts.
Once the Codden children learned of the choirs planned trip from Havre to Great Falls they colluded with Donny to arrange the mini-concert as a surprise.
The Coddens knew nothing about the concert when they went to the BNSF Depot to meet the train.
Eickhoff too was surprised by the reception the choir received as they exited the westbound train and saw the welcome St. Johns Choir banner being held over the family.
Its kind of fun to be able to come out here and the first thing you see when you come off the train is a Welcome St. Johns Choir sign, Eickhoff said. I think it really made the kids feel really right at home. Which is typical of Montana hospitality, Id say.
Members of the choir are selected when they are in third or fourth grade and go through a rigorous training program, Eickhoff explained. They then will rehearse twice a week.
They perform mainly a program of sacred music and some Broadway tunes, Eickhoff said.