We had sectionals at rehearsal last night. “O altos,” said the organist who led ours, “you’re so good and strong and brave!”

Frankly, it requires strength and bravery to sing Bach’s Cantata 140 on as few rehearsals as we’ve had. However, the Advent hymn “Sleepers Awake” is lovely. Hear the Incredible String Band or the Trinity College Choir singing it, and then you can sing it yourself. It’s another lovely Advent hymn, with a beautiful and complicated tune that keeps it from being sung in lots of churches, not to mention the average fireside singalong.

Bach’s cantata of this include “Wachet Auf,” a more popular tune that you probably hum along to when you hear it. When I was a child, I figured the title was “wash it off,” and I still have that somewhere in my head even though I know better now.

The sopranos were complaining last night that it’s too hard and we won’t be ready, and the director agreed. “I feel your pain more than you do,” he said, but then reminded us that the alternative was Pinkham’s Advent cantata.

I’m therefore planning to work on this at home, though so far I’ve just played it in the background while grading papers.