Thursday, May 03, 2007

This 'n' That

I'm finally back to the blog. We hit a very busy spot at church and the day job got rather intense at about the same time. But good things have happened and continue to happen--and I pray that in one particular respect, will yet happen.

On that last point, I learned Tuesday afternoon that my day job boss lost his job. I learned this when the HR director informed me I would not be needed the rest of the week, as the company re-thinks the direction for the IT department to go. So although the acting IT director has emphatically told me that he considers my work essential and absolutely needs me back, it remains to be seen if he has any clout to make that happen. So I've been updating my resume and getting back into the job-hunting groove. I'm praying that they DO want me back--the work was ideal for my (non-church) gifts and I've enjoyed it. But I wish I had the nerve to tell them that any IT department needs at least one administrative support individual--one who's not merely temporary--and if they offer me the job as an employee, I'll take it (but not a temp assignment). I'll know what's right, when and if this or any other assignment is offered. But I *do* need to work; there's that ridiculously over-priced car that needs to be paid for and a pair of feline despots who loudly demand food in their bowl each morning.

But...on to more certain and uplifting things!

We dedicated our new piano and a number of other worship/sanctuary items last Sunday. The service was wonderful and a number of people reported having worshiped as never before. Every musical group in the church was represented, as we combined elements of a dedication recital with the service itself. Sister Pianist outdid herself! She and I played a treatment of "Ode to Joy" as the postlude (I on violin), and while my playing was not flawless, I think it went all right. The children sang like angels while Sister Pianist played Fred Bock's (otherwise rather trite) Clair de Lune/Jesus Loves Me. Our opening hymn was "When In Our Music God Is Glorified," with a handbell duet team playing the melody each verse while I added violin for the first and last verse. A male soloist sang a beloved solo from a years-ago cantata--he's my male adult assistant in children's choir, and the children swarmed him with compliments at their rehearsal later that afternoon (an echo of the way he compliments them each time they sing). Two of our liturgical dancers, accompanied by our early service music team of three singers, piano, and guitar, presented a stunning interpretation of "Above All." We had a lay reader who has a very dramatic style, read Psalm 8, from which we went directly into Fettke's "The Majesty and Glory of Your Name"; the final alleluias were all I could have hoped for from our 21 voices.

No, for the most part we weren't very "high church"; we're never very high church! But it was our best, and for our informal little (?) church, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. We dedicated a grand piano, a Paschal/Advent candlestand (handmade by a member and GORGEOUS), an equally gorgeous handmade handrail recently installed in the choir loft for the singers' safety (made by a different talented member), new worship banners, our recently purchased choir robes, and the beautiful choir stoles made by one of our choir members. The service was followed by a catered lunch in honor of all church volunteers, with a "fair" for people to see the various ministries of the church for which we can volunteer in the coming summer and school year. A great day, great worship, and a great coming together of the generosity and creativity of our congregation!

This was two weeks after our chancel choir presented Benjamin Harlan's "Wondrous Love" as the Scripture and proclamation. Cantatas can be musical hack jobs, but I highly recommend Harlan's remarkable cantata. He had an unusally well-written, effective narration that drew the congregation into the Mark version of the Passion and Resurrection. The choir and our two narrators (latter deliberately chosen because they're twenty-something, an age group we tend not to hear from too often in our congregation but which is growing in number and faith in our church) did a fantastic job. One of the good things about "Wondrous Love" is that it doesn't force a church choir to try to sing "pop" style. The sheer number of familiar, yet not over-sung, hymns makes it very unusual in its genre. I've heard from several people that members of the congregation were singing along on a few of the songs! When debriefing the choir the next Wednesday, the consensus was that it was their favorite of any cantata they've ever sung, mainly because it wasn't "pop." They don't do "pop" very well, and they know it. And I couldn't be happier with that state of affairs! So on my to-do list is a letter of thanks to Dr. Harlan, which will include encouragement to keep writing things like this. We smaller, "legit" choirs have too few extended works that we can do with integrity and confidence. The worship of God deserves such music.

And the next week, our school-age choir was the service choir. They do this once each year and it is a huge deal for them. They sang Natalie Sleeth's "Feed My Lambs," just about perfectly. They behaved beautifully, even sitting and listening attentively to the guest pianist's postlude (Sister Pianist was away for the weekend). They understood that being in the choir loft meant that they were worship leaders for the morning and they stepped up to the challenge and did very well. I am VERY proud of them!

One more "big" thing still remains for me this spring: our annual Children's Choir Concert, scheduled for this Sunday. It's not a huge deal; all the music is the children's favorites from this choir year. It's fun, also, because we demonstrate a few of the things the congregation never sees/hears: from "Nancy the Gnat" (a little game the younger children and I play to get them to stretch their voices and learn control over pitch and volume) and "The Silly Song" (the children have the length of the song--sung to the tune of "Polly Wolly Doodle"--to be as silly and wiggly as they wish, then the "sillies are gone now") to all the verses and motions to the "Austrian Yodeling Song" (this year complete with Tyrolian hats), the concert is a celebration of many of the things we do to help the children grow in their knowledge and love of music and worship. I'm always delighted by the number of people who attend who have no children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews in the children's choirs. This church loves their children. (So do I!)

Then it's a matter of crating the handbells to send them off for reconditioning, getting ready to welcome special Sunday choirs (men for Mother's Day and women for Father's Day) and volunteer groups to sub for the choir during their July off (and arrange for two volunteer directors for the two weeks I'm taking off), and enjoy not spending 13+ hours at church on Sundays during the summer. I'm tired, and I'm ready for a little change of pace. I'm thinking about seeing if I could visit a couple of the Texas Rev Gals' churches on those weeks off. (Hint, hint)

So that's all the news that is news in Psalmist-land, where all the members are loving, all the children are angels, and all the singers are WELL above average.


P.S. an after-thought said...

It all sounds lovely and ambitious. And you will enjoy your time off. Musicians are taken for granted, I've observed.

Psalmist said...

Thanks, P.S.!

Love, Ps. :D