Saints on the Seas

by | Feb. 26, 2010

LDS Life

Cori Connors relied on her love of music when she was asked to write lyrically based songs for the oratorio Saints on the Seas, a composition commemorating the early pioneers who sailed to America from the British Isles and Scandinavia, meant for a 2001 European commemoration of the Saints. Connors's compositions spoke of the hearts, and heartaches, of those early Church members who sailed across the ocean on their way to Zion before they ever took a step on the trail westward.

Whenever Cori Connors begins a musical adventure, she is not always sure where exactly she will be able to make a difference. But she has to believe that she can.

"Life is just a series of little chippings away," she says. "If we set out to make a big difference, egos can get in our way. I didn't set out to be impressive. . . . I felt that my calling was to be a voice for those people who went before me."

She began her quest by reading hundreds of journal entries of those early sea-faring saints. The task was overwhelming. In time, however, she found herself drawn to the writings of Jean Rio Baker, who left her native England in 1851 to journey to the western United States. It seemed that every time Connors came across an entry that deeply moved her, she was not surprised to see Jean Rio Baker's name at the end.

"She saw beauty in the commonplace things. She charmed me," says Connors. "I'm glad she let the 'poetry' come out of her." That "poetry" formed the basis of several songs for the oratorio and for a later, simpler acoustic version which Connors has performed since the oratorio was performed in 2001.

Along with Kurt Bestor and Mark Robinette, Connors was able to bring to life music that has had a profound experience on the lives of individuals all over the world. But it has had perhaps the greatest impact on Connors herself.

"I feel that for me to make a difference for my Young Women or my family, if I define [my objective] clearly in my head, and my objective is true, the Lord will help me," she says. "Things just fall out in small ways and sometimes bigger ways. If you set out to just do what feels right, then making a difference is a byproduct."

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