Sunday, February 17, 2013

Good News/Bad News on the First Sunday in Lent

First, the good news. As usual, the 10:45 service began with the Great Litany. (This led me to do some research, which I report on my main blog in the post “Persons of the Trinity.” But I digress.) Lou and Annette Tierney alternated in chanting the part of the celebrant in the long Litany, and they each did a very good job. Lou definitely chants better than most priests I’ve known.

The postlude was performed by Bill Owens on trumpet, Curtis Starr on trombone, Tommy Starr on timpani, and Doug Starr on the organ. It was a quite wonderful arrangement by Doug of Copland’s well-known “Fanfare for the Common Man.” It helped that our organ has some magnificent trumpet stops. What was particularly remarkable was the fact that I did not see one person leave after the dismissal. Everyone stayed to listen to the postlude, and they clapped enthusiastically when it was over.

Bill, Curt, Tommy, Doug, and Bryan Sable played at a Friends of Music concert at 3 o’clock. It was surely an unusual all-instrumental concert. They again performed “Fanfare for the Common Man,” as well as some Copeland songs, less the actual singing. Much of the program was devoted to early music, however. The audience was small, but appreciative.

Now, the bad news. The 10:45 service began with a problem. We had only one acolyte, and we were doing the most complicated procession we ever do. (Informally, the path taken by the choir as we sing the Great Litany is referred to as “the pretzel.”) The procession down the (liturgical) north aisle was led by a crucifer, but Annette, in the south aisle, was on her own. The choir improvised nicely, and I’m sure most worshipers were unaware that anything was amiss. By the time we were a few minutes into the service, another two acolytes had materialized from somewhere. I long for the days when St. Paul’s reliably had seven acolytes at each principal Sunday service. We are enlisting ever younger acolytes, but we cannot seem to get them to show up.

The choir sang two anthems—well, I think, but I may not be objective. One of the anthems, Farrant’s “Call to remembrance,” a favorite of mine, was sung just after we had sung the Angus Dei. At this point, the Chinese fire drill began. We had been told to abandon our sections and take up positions in which choir members singing different parts would be mixed up. We didn’t quite execute this as planned, and I fear the effect was chaotic. Then there was confusion about when we should be taking communion ourselves, and more chaos ensued. Doug began playing the communion hymn before most of us had returned to our places. I hope worshipers were concentrating on their own trip to the communion rail and not watching the choir, whose comings and goings were not a pretty sight.

Finally, there was this afternoon’s concert. The concert itself was fine, actually, but the church was inordinately cold. The church had been comfortable in the morning, though the choir room registered 52°F when I showed up for rehearsal at 9:30. (I had nearly frozen to death in Bible study in the lounge Saturday morning, when that room was also in the 50s.) Anyway, I had meant to put on my sport coat before I left the house, but I only grabbed my parka, which I left in the cloakroom downstairs when I returned to the church for the concert. It was a cold concert indeed, and I was jealous of concertgoers wearing sweaters or coats. On cold days, why can’t we heat the building enough so that it is only mildly chilly?


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