Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trinity Sunday View from the Choir

The view of a choir member during a 10:30 service differs from that of worshipers in the nave. As I have often done recently, I sat behind the organ console today, a place from which I can sometimes see things others do not. Also, as St. Paul’s’ former Audio-Visual Co√∂rdinator, I think about things others do not. Today, I seemed to have a lot to think about.

The church was hot today. I don’t know how long the air conditioning units had been running, but it wasn’t long enough. Doug Starr had them turned off about 10 o’clock, when the choir and soloists began a rehearsal in the church. That was necessary, of course, but it probably would have been less of a problem had the units been running longer or set to a lower temperature. Many choir members thought that today was the first Sunday we would not wear our robes, but Doug said that that would be next Sunday. It was warm with my robe on, even wearing a short-sleeve shirt.

Just a few minutes into the Eucharistic Prayer, I heard a crash behind me. I looked back and saw nothing particularly unusual. A few moments later, however, a number of people were rushing to minister to an acolyte who apparently had fainted in the heat. This happens every now and then, and I think the young man is all right. To keep out of the way, choir members took communion at the lower altar rail.

Since shortly after Lou came to St. Paul’s, we stopped adjusting the lights in the church as the service proceeds. (We used to dim the house lights during the lessons and sermon and spotlight the pulpit, for example.) Now, however, we seem to keep the lights on as bright as possible for the whole service. Although I’m not sure that dimming the lights actually saves electricity, I do know that it diminishes the amount of heat the lights produce. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the lights in the church draw about five kilowatts of electricity. Much of that energy goes into heat, rather than light. I did notice that at least one bulb in a lantern at the crossing was burned out, which saved a little energy and diminished the heat production. As I was recessing along the south aisle, I also noticed that two lamps in the track lighting were out. My hymnal was a bit hard to read as I passed under those lamps.

More burned-out lights that the congregation could not see are in the four panels that control the church lighting system. The system is controlled with pushbuttons, and the only way to tell what switches have been activated is to see which pushbuttons are illuminated. Many of the lamps that illuminate the buttons are burned out, so it’s hard to tell at a glance how the lights are set. The lamps, which look a bit like tiny Christmas tree lights, are a pain to replace, and I doubt that St. Paul’s is keeping replacements in stock.

Some other problems with today’s service were more apparent to everyone. The prelude was a duet sung by Brian Brazon and Sarah Williams. These young people do not yet have strong adult voices and so were supplied with a microphone. I can’t say that it did much good. Two microphones would have been more appropriate, and the microphones should have been closer to the singers or the gain should have been set higher. I was closer to Miss Williams and could not really hear Mr. Brazon. I doubt that many others heard the duet properly. That was too bad.

Finally, I was surprised that the Paschal Candle was still next to the pulpit this week. In the not-too-distant past, it was moved from its regular position near the font to near the pulpit for the Easter Vigil and was returned to its usual position after Pentecost. According to a prayer book rubric for the Easter Vigil, “It is customary that the Paschal Candle burn at all services from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost.” I did notice that the candle was (properly) not lit today. The presence of the large candle stand, however, made using the nearby credence table cumbersome.


Jane Little said...


It is natural for you to notice things you were once responsible for, and your blog is a good means of communication.

Getting the sound right is necessary and should be taken care of late in the week, before the service, by those responsible.

I appreciate your blog.

Unknown said...


I was on the font side at the Prelude, and heart Brian, but couldnt' hear Sarah well. To be honest, I didn't notice any of your other issues (with the exception of the fainting acolyte). But it is good that someone is looking. These kinds of things should be addressed with Carl K. and Bob F.


Lionel Deimel said...


I had mentioned the issue with the lamps in the lighting control switches to Jim Frantz and told him where to get the bulbs. (They could be on order for all I know.) The sextons should always be on the alert for lights that aren’t working, although I used to check the church every week. Some things don’t get done anymore because, when I resigned as A-V Co√∂rdinator, I was never replaced. Apparently, that job was unimportant.