Friday, November 20, 2009

Southern Churchpatality - Part 2

For Part One go here.

Now that the issue of my sister-in-law’s health (Say-rah, bless her heart) had been settled, Catherine and I thought we were done.

But this being the South, and politeness being key, we needed a chance to feel included.


I made the mistake of laughing, as I assumed she was joking.

You see, choirs wear robes, and rehearse – typically on Thursday nights. (The Thursday night rehearsal is a time-honored tradition, started ages ago by pastors trying to get their congregants to stop watching FRIENDS.)

As I didn’t have a robe, and didn’t rehearse, well, she must have been joking, right?


She nodded to the choir loft, off to the right of the pulpit.

We knew it was the choir “loft” even though it didn’t “loft” – it was a flat area. But it had chairs facing sideways, and was partially obscured by on old non-pipe organ; hence it qualified as “loft.”

Knowing full well that they couldn’t possibly use the number of seats in the loft as their only audition requirement, we declined a second time.

That’s when I caught sight of my brother, behind the altar doing whatever it is that pastor interns do before Southern protestant services (my guess, changing the wine back into grape juice through a holy process called “trans-sub-standardization”).

He was smiling a “just you wait and see smile.”

Which we understood after the service got underway.

There were less than twenty congregants total, scattered throughout the church.

No one, however, was in the choir loft.

No one, that is, until the pastor made the announcement,

“And now, our choir will gift us with a few hymns.”

At which point every person in the church, aside from my wife and me, stood up, walked to the choir loft and took a seat.

Every. Single. Person.

Once they all settled into their seats, the choir director turned and addressed the audience (both of us) with an “Our first hymn will be number 23.”

The choir flipped through their hymn books, giving away their lack of rehearsal with exclamations like:

“Oh, an oldie but goodie.”


“I don’t think I know this one.”

Okay. So this is a group with their Thursday nights free.

Cath and I did a pretty good job at keeping a straight face at the oddity of the situation.

Luke, up in the choir loft, didn’t even try; he laughed and praised, especially after the choir director invited the congregation to sing along with the choir on the second chorus of #76, "Leaning On the Everlasting Arms."

Both of us obliged.

When they finished struggling and sight-reading their way through four hymns – including the special music selection of #276 "Oh Happy Day" in honor of the pianist’s birthday – they all got up and found their way back to their scattered seats, no longer the choir, just congregants.

Like all the rest of us.

Just my thoughts,



Anonymous said...

This is great stuff, Sean. I'm seeing a wonderful movie scene. What's the bigger story?
-Wayne H.

Anonymous said...

That's fantastic. What a wild, wonderful experience!