The choirmaster tapped his baton on the music stand. “Quiet please, choir. With only two months to learn the music for our fall concert, we don’t have time for visiting during rehearsal. Get your music arranged in order of practice and we can visit afterward.”
“Donna, were you signed up to bring cookies? Oh, gooood! Let’s begin with the prayer Betsy graciously wrote for us.”
Bless O Lord, us Your servants who minister in Your temple.
Grant that what we sing with our lips, we may believe in our hearts;
And what we believe in our hearts, we may show forth in our lives.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
“Please turn to page 89 in Solemn Vespers, beginning at the letter C. And on one…”
“Tenors,” loudly called the frowning choirmaster. “What page are you on? The rest of us are on page 89, letter C. Let’s try again.”
“Tenors! You enter first, then the altos. Let’s try it again . . . “
“It’s always those tenors,“ whispered Kerri.
“It’s mainly the doctors in that section who arrive straight from their offices without any dinner,” replied Carolyn, smiling.
“They seem more interested in playing than in singing,” Kerri chuckled softly.
As the rehearsal ended, Jim, the choirmaster announced, “Sectionals start this Saturday from 9:00 a.m. til noon. Altos, you’ll be rehearsing in the south transept with Teresa. Sopranos, you’re in the parish hall with Sandra. Baritones are in the youth room with John and tenors are here in the choir room with me. If anyone cannot make their sectional, please see me before you leave tonight.”
“Jim, when do we get practice tapes?” Laura asked.
“There are a few sectional practice tapes here on the piano for those wanting to use them. Each part is marked, so take the appropriate one. I’ll be glad to meet with anyone having any difficulties; just let me know so we can arrange a mutually convenient time. By next week, the practice CD’s containing the full program will be ready so you can also practice on your own with full choir and orchestra. Any questions, anyone?”
“What about the Latin?” asked someone from the back row.
“The vowel pronunciations are on the blackboard for those not familiar with Latin. Please make a note of them; they are not difficult, just different. And remember to listen to your tape or CD as often as possible, even while driving. Thank you, choir, for a super rehearsal tonight.”
“Okay choir, this is our last mid-week rehearsal before dress rehearsal with full orchestra on Saturday. Please be on the risers in the chancel and ready to rehearse at precisely 9:00 a.m. Orchestra time is expensive. The concert begins at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday so please be in the choir room and robed by 4:00 which will allow time to warm up.”
“What about folders?” asked Tom.
“Please carry your music in a black folder,” replied Jim.
“Tonight I want everyone to move from your section so you are singing beside someone from another section. This will enable us to discover and, hopefully, correct any difficult passages. Again, I’ll gladly schedule individual rehearsal time with anyone needing it – just let me know.”
At approximately 3:30 that Sunday afternoon a brief thunderstorm passed through the area. Amid heavy rains and thunder, lightning struck the transformers that supplied power to the church.
Orchestra and choir members arrived to find the church freshly-washed but very dark. As musicians gathered in the darkened choir room, someone asked, “What happens now?”
The choirmaster said, “It’s too late to cancel the concert. The night sexton is now placing candles in every window in the sanctuary and as many as possible around the risers in the chancel, but you will be singing in very dim light. You have learned the music well and we are well-rehearsed. This will be a concert by candlelight.”
With quiet reverence, the choir processed through the candlelit sanctuary to the dimly-lit chancel where each took a place on the risers. The soft glow from flickering candlelight created a special ambiance throughout the church.
The choirmaster lifted his baton, the orchestra began to play, and the choir began to sing.
Each musician, grateful for well-taught and well-learned music, easily adapted to the unique opportunity God provided that Sunday evening. And so the Candlelight Concert became a wonderful memory of special musical moments shared in that sacred place.
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