CHICAGO, Feb. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The North Park University Gospel Choir Touring Ensemble will visit seven Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) congregations in California during its 2013 spring tour, singing in worship and in longer choral performances. The tour theme is "Lifting the Highest Praise." The March 10-17 tour includes visits to congregations in Fremont, Modesto, Turlock, Hilmar, Santa Rosa and Oakland. Of the approximately 130 students in the popular choir, 51 students make up the touring ensemble. The choir is directed by Stephen Kelly, worship coordinator, University Ministries, and co-directed by Dr. Helen Hudgens, associate professor, School of Music. Instrumentalists will accompany the touring ensemble. Performances dates and locations are at http://www.northpark.edu/News/Featured-Events/2013-Gospel-Choir-Touring-Ensemble on the Web. Students have committed their entire spring break to be part of the California tour. "It inspires me over and over again to see God at work in the church, and to see these students become the body of Christ, and sing so passionately about the goodness of God," Kelly said. About 10 students on the tour are from Scandinavia, South America and Asia, he said. The choir tour will feature diverse compositions by well-known and award-winning composers. Among the songs the Gospel Choir Touring Ensemble will sing is "High and Lifted Up," by Joe Pace; "Faithful," Hold Out," and "Grateful" by Hezekiah Walker; "Jesus be a Fence," written by by Sam Cooke, the legendary American pop and soul singer, and arranged by Fred Hammond; "Total Praise" by Richard Smallwood, a gospel music icon; "More than Anything" by Lamar Campbell; "I Will Run" by Freddy Rodriguez, and others. Two favorites are "Awesome God Medley," and " Brighter Day" written by Kirk Franklin, a seven-time Grammy Award winner. Gospel music, rooted in the black church experience, is joyful, filled with praise and uplifting. Choir members are frequently in "step motion" while singing, and clap their hands. There's also a story that goes with every choral piece, Hudgens said.