Last night we had our first rehearsal with the strings for the concert coming up on Sunday. We’ll have our first rehearsal with the brass and percussion on Sunday and just hope it goes well.

It went pretty well with the strings. Choral singers at the first instrumental rehearsal spend a lot of time standing around like cattle. See, we’ll sing four bars and then stop while the conductor fiddles around with the violins, and then we sing the same four bars and wait while he chats about stops with the organ, and then sing eleven bars of something else…

The breaks aren’t long enough for us to go do something, we’re not allowed to talk, and we’re stuffed together on risers like a bunch of vertical sardines. Accordingly, we stare into space a lot. This may be the source of the false yet widespread belief that singers are stupid.

We’re working on, among other things, William Grant Still’s Christmas in the Western World. This arrangement of a bunch of traditional Christmas songs from the Americas was written in 1967 and is hardly ever done. Still was an Arkansas guy and one of the first African Americans to be recognized as a serious composer, and we’re doing the piece largely for its historical importance. However, I like a few of the songs in it.

One is Glad Christmas Bells, a Brrazilian tune with pretty harmonies and a lilting cello line. You might sing this one to yourself as you walk from the parking lot to your office or something. Or you could snatch up the person in the next cubicle and dance around the office to its strains.

Here’s sheet music for an arrangement with tuba.

Here are the words:

Glad Christmas bells, your music tells
The sweet and pleasant story;
How came to earth, in lowly birth,
The Lord of life and glory.

No palace hall its ceiling tall
His kingly head spread over,
There only stood a stable rude
The heavenly Babe to cover.

No raiment gay, as there He lay,
Adorned the infant Stranger;
Poor, humble Child of mother mild,
She laid Him in a manger.

But from afar, a splendid star
The wise men westward turning;
The livelong night saw pure and bright,
Above His birth place burning

Today I have a bunch of meetings. This always fills me with dread, even though I sort of enjoy them once they’re underway. There’s also the matter of unbillable hours. As my business grows and more people call me up and want me to meet with them, I hope to shove it off on my daughters.