Yesterday included two meetings. I spent much of the day reading 16th century journals and fooling around with numbers, so I expected the meetings to be welcome breaks. And indeed they were.
The first one was lunch with Janalisa. Among the useful business things, she also told me that I was not unreasonable to be a little bit stressed.
You might have noticed, if you read this xanga regularly, that I have been a little stressed lately. Now I feel justified.
The second was a music meeting. That was quite a surprise. I thought there would be a few of us with notebooks and pencils, debating the style of music suitable for the early service demographic and making a short list of possible soloists for the offertory. In fact, there were six of us, and we gathered around the keyboard and sang. Then we ate cake.
What a lovely surprise!
Just imagine, if some of the times when you go in to a meeting, instead of flip charts and discussions of whether the analytics are accurate and if so what does this mean for your conversion rate, you got to gather around and sing. Wouldn’t you feel much less stressed?
We sang “Whispering Hope,” a song which my mother has talked about but which I’d never heard before, and “It is Well With My Soul.” We sang “Jesus is Coming Soon.” I love to sing that song. It is so much fun. I learned it in a Baptist church, where they believe this sort of thing and preach about it. You will never hear that sort of thing in a mainline Protestant church, so we were just singing it for fun, but I was thrilled. I was also very pleased, now that I am heading up the music ministry team, to find that there was a grass-roots movement toward producing a little choir for the early service.
Having heard in a meeting just a day or two ago that the early service didn’t respond well to “old-timey” music, I was surprised that the group was stuck so firmly in the 1890s. I mentioned this. They stared at me. They assured me that they, all of whom actually attend the early service, loved old-timey hymns. They rolled their eyes about how right now they have contemporary music all the time. They represented about 9% of the congregation at that service, so it may be that they are a revolutionary group trying to force the congregation to sing “Church in the Wildwood” when they would really prefer to be singing stuff from Jars of Clay, but if so, they hid it well. No one spoke up for Beethoven, but otherwise it appeared that they were pretty openminded. And, if indeed they are a subversive group, it was clever of them to disguise the fact with cake.
On the ride back to town, the driver confided that she was sometimes frustrated by the casualness of the music at our church. “There is no standard of excellence,” she said. And indeed I have noticed that there seems to be a feeling that actually knowing the music is optional, and rehearsing a thing long enough to do it well is somehow being a spoilsport.
One of the other singers, she said, has specifically rejected the suggestion of polishing pieces up before presenting them on the grounds that she doesn’t like things to sound planned.
There might have been a bit of a silence there while I tried to assimilate the idea of actually wanting your public performance of music to sound unplanned.
The driver could tell that I was a kindred spirit. She had heard me say, “How about if we divide this up into parts?” and “Let’s just sing through that second line again — I know I’m not singing what’s written there.”
We plan to subvert the early service.