Monday, December 01, 2008

A Really Beautiful Service

Sunday, November 30th, was the traditional day for the start of the Advent Season and is honored at my church by holding a Lessons & Carols service. Even though there was no communion, it was a fairly complicated service with 7 different readings, 14 hymns and anthems, a flutist for some of them, and full recordings both video and sound. All in all things went really well.

The choir had been preparing for this service for weeks. Some of the pieces were pretty challenging, including 2 in different languages and one in old English. On Sunday morning we were handed copies of all the hymnal pieces to add into our notebooks.

We have a new choir director, Cindy, who did a really good job getting us ready for this. In addition to lots of practice on the more difficult sections of each anthem, she made practice CD's for the altos and basses so that we could make sure our parts were learned. I'm sure that hadn't been her original plan as many of our members are very experienced and some are professionally trained musicians. But I was new, nervous, and holding back when we'd come to a part in a number I didn't feel confident of. So she planned on making one for me. I mentioned my gratitude for her generosity to some of the other members thinking that they would agree and never expecting them to feel they needed one too. Oops! So I made copies of mine and Cindy made another set for the basses. Man, that really helped. I'd play it at home and sometimes find myself waking up with a melody in my head.

The choir wore robes for the first time in my experience. Ours are red with a white/gold stole. The robes had been borrowed by another church and not returned promptly so we had to get them back. Then, because there were several new members, we had to do a trying on and organizing so that each person had their own robe and knew where to find it. It all worked out well and the one really short, almost car coat length, robe turned out to be for our member who is on a scooter the entire service. Being physically challenged is no deterrent to joining our choir.

Saturday I was sitting at my computer practicing with the CD and up popped a slider from Facebook telling me that our Assistant Rector was headed to Lessons & Carols practice. "What practice," I cried? Then being unable to reach anyone in the know I got in my car and raced over to the church to be sure I wasn't missing an important session. Turns out it was for the readers. One of our Adult Education classes these past few months has been "Drama of the Word" taught by our Assistant Rector, Matt, and a new member, Sam Gilliam, who teaches drama at Trinity University. She is the second drama teacher we have now, the other one being Stacey Connelly. Looks like Reconciliation will have a lot of drama in its future. This really excites me because I studied drama in college and love getting involved in things like that.

When I got to the church it was obvious I wasn't needed for the rehearsal, but Altar Guild was also there setting things up. Since I am on that I decided to help. All things work to the good for those who love the Lord! We changed fair linens, put up the altar hangings, changed out candles, and replaced the wicks in the lighters. We even found where the steamer was so that we could get the folds out of the hangings. They'd been in the closet too long.

When Sunday morning came around we hurried to get our robes on, our music organized, and practiced getting up on the stage once. Suddenly it was time and we were in the middle of the performance. I wish you could have been there to see and hear what I was hearing from my chair in front of the altar. The readers were behind us taking different voices during the readings. The acoustics are awesome under the rotunda so the choir was clearly heard and I could hear and match my voice to my choir director's, she sings alto too. One of the readings had this echo affect where every one of the readers echoed each other in gathering succession with a phrase. It sounded like the angels in heaven crying out, praising God over and over again.

Robert told the congregation what "amen" meant and that he knew they wanted to say one, so the entire church said, "amen" and applauded the choir and readers. That was so nice and something I like about my church, they give you a lot of support and appreciation when you are involved in things.

After it was all over and I was headed down the hall, I overheard our choir director telling another member that she, "didn't know any local choirs, not even professional ones, that could do what we had just done." That made me laugh, because she had been telling us over and over again that this was all, "pretty basic stuff." Now that's a good choir director! After hearing that my confidence is up and I'm really looking forward to the 3 big services we have coming up: 1) Matt's Ordination, 2) our 40th Anniversary service, and 3) the Christmas one.

Post Script: I was hoping to start this post with a nice video of one of the songs we sang for Lessons & Carols. But the one I wanted to post had the greatest voices but a heart rending image of Christ carrying his cross. The painting is probably famous, but I just could not bring myself to post that image on this joyous season. So, with that warning, here are links to 7 of the songs we sang yesterday. None of these videos are of us. If I get access to one I'll try to fix that and post it instead. Until then I hope you enjoy these. And if you want to avoid the video with the Christ carrying his cross image during a season when we are celebrating his birth I totally understand. It's the second one. But the group that sings that one is Vocal Point of BYU and worth hearing. Your choice.

Hanacpachap cussicuinin

E'en So Lord Jesus Quickly Come

Every Valley (Not Handel's Messiah but same words)

Prepare Thyself, Zion by JS Bach

One Perfect Flower (this is just a clip of the solo)

Maria Walks Amid the Thorn

Ave Maria by Franz Biebl


San said...

Gorgeous music, Lee. I do hope there will be a video of your choir.

Lee said...

Thank you, San! I feel sort of silly now because I posted a request for you to visit here before I checked the mail. I'm so glad you are such a good friend to do it without asking.

It may not happen for a few days but I know they had both mike and camera going. Surely something can be found.


Shrinky said...

Oh, I so hope so Lee - I will make a point of checking back to hear it. I am such a grouch on the build up to Christmas, thanks for making it real again for me. Smile.

Lee said...

I'm so glad my post helped you with your Christmas spirit, Shrinky! If I get the video of us or even an audio recording I'll be sure to pop over and let you know it's there.


Sandi McBride said...

I am so glad that you are getting so involved with your Church Lee. I think we get so much from our involvement, more than we ever realize. There is so much that God has to offer us when we are in communion with His hope you'll be able to post us a should go on You Tube!

Lee said...

Thank you Sandi! It is becoming quite the source of joy and a good variety of experiences which will no doubt be useful. I hope there's a video soon. Don't know so much about putting it on YouTube but Blogger has the option for uploading them. So we will see. No promises.