A small church has a few people who show up and get things done. They keep the building and grounds maintained, pay the bills and keep the books, bring the food, make the coffee, do the shopping, throw the neighborhood parties, decorate the sanctuary, arrange for special music, run the sound system, provide transportation and lodging for out-of-town speakers, wash the dishes and take out the trash…and that’s just on a week-to-week basis.
The Christmas Season requires a few miracles to get our church through it, and a nice long rest afterwards in a sanitarium for our Music Director.
Our Spiritual Leader and his family, all good singers who normally participate in the Christmas Eve Candle-lighting service, had left the state to spend the holidays with an elderly and ailing family member. We were left with an assortment of singers and speakers from the congregation, who were used to performing on their own, but not in a coordinated effort. As a result, we never had a rehearsal where everyone was there.
This is a short list of headache-producing problems that required thinking on our feet and prayer during the program:
One no-show solo performer
One reader/performer with a head cold
One solo that instantly became a congregational hymn due to no-show solo performer
One special number that became a congregational hymn due to lack of practice together by a group scheduled to perform it
One tense moment when the reader/performer stepped up to the podium to read her scripture and someone else read it by mistake
Tense moment continues when Reader/performer retreats to back of church followed by Music Director, while trio attempts to perform song, “O, Holy Night” with one contralto, one baritone, and one mezzo-soprano (me).
Music Director sits down next to this writer after that song and buries her head on my bosom for several seconds.
The reader/performer returned to her seat and blew her nose. Somehow we got through the rest of the program. The readings were done in order by the correct people, the performer with the head cold got through her solo, the message given by an experienced speaker from the congregation was well-received, and the candle-lighting went smoothly. I got to end the service with my sentimental rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” which was also well-received, and then everyone adjourned to the buffet where coffee, tamales, sandwiches, and cookies were enjoyed by all.
At home when I played the CD recording of the program, it did not seem all that disorganized (except for one long silence), and I realized that some of the people in the audience may not have been aware of the dramas going on amongst the divas up front. Someone had even told me that she thought the service was better than last year’s (OMG!) But I know that long rest in a sanitarium seemed mighty appealing to our beleaguered Music Director!