Yesterday evening…

5:48 – I finish putting together the critical thinking links page and linking it up hither and yon, grab my paycheck, and scoot out of the store.

6:11- I fling open the door at my home, call out, “Is there any food?” and, receiving an answer in the negative, race back to the car and leave again. #1 son follows me with some tale of a pizza man on the way, but I cry, “No time! Rehearsal’s at 6:30!” and zoom away.

6:23- I reach the hall and turn confidently into the parking lot. Which is entirely full. I drive up and down and down and up and eventually park down the street in front of — well, let’s call it The Mottled Oyster.

6:28- I speedwalk back to the hall. Along the way, people in cars stop and shout, “Are there any parking spaces?” and I cry, “No! None!” like the voice of some terrible banshee telling people to abandon hope. Well, except I’m an alto. I always think of banshees as soprani, don’t you?

6:29- The door is locked. I race around the side of the hall and skitter into my place just in time. A cello is just behind me.

6:30 – The downbeat.

7:00- The soloists are great. Everything is going remarkably well. I haven’t missed any entrances yet.

7:30- The standing bass with the surfer boy look is leaning on his instrument, his arm wrapped around it as though it were his buddy.

7:45- The tenor behind me is spitting on me, trying to get enough consonant into “Counselor!”

7:48- Three of the soloists have gone down into the house. The soprano soldiers on.

7:58- The conductor is trying to get the orchestra to turn to the “Hallelujah Chorus” fast enough at the end of Part I, even though it is actually at the end of Part II. We are not doing Part II, because that is the Easter part. The players behave as though it is news to them. They don’t have the words, so maybe it is.

8:01- The alto beside me asks whether I am hungry. “I don’t get hungry while I’m singing,” she says, “but then afterwards I notice it.” She’s right.

8:10- We are singing “And all flesh” over and over to try to get exactly the effect wanted. I believe that I have been doing it exactly right all along. It is possible that everyone else also believes this. We are wrong.

8:13- We are doing “His yoke is easy” over and over, faster and faster. The women next to me has given up attempting to get all the notes in.

8:16- The conductor points out that the concert is being “microphoned.” He stands with a bemused look for a moment, looking like a teddy bear. “Recorded!” he shouts, as the word swims up to the surface of his exhausted brain.  We had gotten it in the first place. The point is not to turn pages audibly.

8:27 – The conductor asks the orchestra to “leave as fast as is consistent with the safety of your instruments.” The chorus stays on to rearrange ourselves. A couple of people sneak out. I am tempted to do the same, but after all, we can’t all do that. There is only so much of this task that can be done in the imagination.

8:34 – We slope out the stage door into the rain. I am sore in surprising places. Thanks to my hand-knitted wool socks, my feet are content. I find my car outside The Mottled Oyster. Some of the younger musicians are heading there to celebrate. They didn’t get up as early as I did. Or at least they haven’t done so as many times. “Younger” is the operative word. I head home. I am surprised to see lots of Christmas lights. I was in too much of a hurry on the way out to notice them.

8:48 – I microwave leftover pizza, talk to my kids, and check my mail. The day has ended. Good thing, too.

I tried to sleep in this morning, but couldn’t actually manage it. Still, I plan to do my required work quickly and then spend a little time reading before the fire with a good cup of tea, or perhaps several good cups of tea. I have a lot of errands and housework and holiday preparations to do. The Fair Trade Market is taking place up on the hill today, I need to visit a shop which is open only from 11:00 to 2:00, but which apparently has the best possible cheeses for Christmas Eve and is now taking orders, and there is a severe grocery shortage around here. But I also intend to rest for tonight’s performance. I tend to think of myself as “only in the chorus” in this kind of case, but #2 daughter talked me out of that. It is true, as she says, that I have worked hard on this, and singing it is also hard work, and I deserve to be rested and and feel good about my performance, even when it isn’t a solo. Plus, I am in a trio at 8:30 tomorrow morning, and of course choir at 11:00 where I will be one of three tenors, and have another performance of Messiah tomorrow afternoon. Resting a bit is the only sensible thing to do.

Today’s song probably ought to be “His Yoke is Easy,” but instead I offer you “The Christmas Waltz.” This is a completely secular song for the last day before advent. It was written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Style, first recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1954, and you can hear him singing it if you click on his name and scroll down that page. It has been recorded since then by everyone from Doris Day to The Carpenters to Michael Smith. I would suggest that you sing it in a jazzy style, sketching out an accompaniment at the piano while the fire glows behind you. A glass of champagne on top of the piano and an ermine stole dripping down your back (this part is only for females; men should wear dinner jackets or satin smoking jackets) would also be good. However, this song is also nice for singing while walking through the crisp air in mittens. Either way, you’re covered.