My solo went very badly.

It was a song I have sung many, many times before. I know it by heart, so I stood up with no music and sang it a capella. People were talking, but once I started singing they responded in the usual way — with apparent astonishment.

I don’t know why people always look surprised when I sing, but this has always been the response from people who aren’t real familiar with my singing, so I was reassured that things were going as well as usual. I sang the first couple of lines, and then went up to do the first bit of flashy ornamentation — and my voice cracked.

This never happens to me. I have a really reliable voice. My brain is not so reliable. I have forgotten words, missed entrances, and lost my place in a song, but I have never had my voice fail me in the middle of a song.

Naturally, what you want to do in a case like this is sit down and give up. Not an option, though. If you have painted or knitted or written something and you mess it up, you can redo it. I suppose if you were playing some instrument and a string broke or something, you could stop and fix it. But if you are singing, you just have to keep going.

That is not the end of the trouble, though. I was singing a gospel song which depends for its charm on expressive, free singing, and for its power on flashy ornamentation. But once my voice cracked, I was too afraid it would do it again, to be able to relax and sing the song properly. I smoothed out the lines and skimped on the high notes, and it just was not very good.

I guess the people who had heard me run through it before church heard the song done properly, but the rest of them just heard me butcher it.

My fellow choristers told me how good a job I had done in the choir room when we were changing after the service, but I said, “Don’t say that. It was terrible. If you say ‘Good job’ now, I will never be able to believe you in future.” The director — fortunately, he made it back from Vicksburg in time for the service so I didn’t have to pretend to conduct — said something kind about allergies.

Oh, well.