Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back at St. Paul’s

It was good to be back at St. Paul’s and singing in the choir today. I had picked up a respiratory infection at General Convention, and it resulted in lingering voice problems. After singing today without difficulty, I’m going to declare myself officially recovered.

I was surprised—well, sort of—to see that we had a baptism today. I have complained to the rector more than once about our scheduling baptisms for the convenience of the family, seemingly without any encouragement to wait for one of the traditional occasions:
Holy Baptism is especially appropriate at the Easter Vigil, on the Day of Pentecost, on All Saints’ Day or the Sunday after All Saints’ Day, and on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the First Sunday after the Epiphany). It is recommended that, as far as possible, Baptisms be reserved for these occasions or when a bishop is present. [BCP, p. 312]
I spent several minutes reading the bulletin trying to figure out just who was being baptized. Only in the prayer list following the order of service and the schedule for the coming week did I find the name of Henry Jay Trau. It is unfortunate that this information was buried in such an unlikely place. The baptism of a child is a significant event in the life of a family, and most families would like to take home a bulletin (or two or three) as a keepsake. We owe it to them to make a bigger deal of the ceremony. The names of people being baptized should always be prominently displayed in the bulletin, and it is a nice touch to work them into the sermon as well.

Completely missing from the bulletin was the formerly standard notice of the prohibition of flash photography during the service. I had not noticed its absence until a flash went off right in my face. The photographer, the font, and my chair in the choir were pretty much in a straight line, and I’m sure I jerked conspicuously when the picture was taken. That picture was only the first of several.

Michelle Boomgaard neglected to ask the congregation to stand for the Baptismal Covenant. People remained seated at first, but eventually stood up. Curiously, there is no rubric in the prayer book instructing the people to stand, which is perhaps an oversight. Michelle has likely done few baptisms and can be excused the oversight.

Less excusable was her sermon, which, for me, was virtually inaudible. Michelle was wearing a microphone and wireless transmitter, but the microphone was too far from her mouth or the gain on the amplifier was too low or she simply did not speak loudly enough. Her dismissal was easy to hear, so there was nothing wrong with the audio equipment.

I do wish preachers would use the pulpit, which is designed for the purpose. Not only does it make the preacher easier to see, but the microphone can be moved closer or farther from the speaker as required. If people are going to use wireless microphones, they really should perform a sound check before the service.

I was delighted that Michelle neglected to announce at least one of the hymns. (I have always considered such announcements unnecessary, if not insulting.) I noticed that we managed to sing the hymn anyway.

We really can roll with the punches. The final hymn had seven verses, but Doug only played five. No one began singing verse six. (Of course, that we were only singing the first five verses should have been noted in the bulletin, but wasn’t.)

My final observation on the service is that five spotlights on the ceiling or rafters are burned out. These bulbs are extraordinarily difficult to replace, and we seem never to have developed a standard way of performing the task. With so many lamps defective, however, I think it’s time to consider how we’re going to do the job next time.

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