Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Easter Wings, Part 2

[Here’s a follow-up to the item that was printed in last week’s edition of “The Chronicle”, the weekly newsletter of the church at which I -gig. -Ed.]

More than once, I’ve gone on and on, in this space, about how much I enjoy my church music gig. As many times as I think, “okay, have to deal with that; okay, there’s a challenge; okay, how can we do this and this and this better?” … nonetheless, we got a good thing going. To the point that, when I chat with my choral director colleagues out there in the big world (at conferences, etc.), I have to kinda soft-pedal the embarrassment of riches that I swim in … otherwise they ask me politely please to hush up. Not everybody in the world gets to hang out with that many singers and that many instrumentalists, to have that great a working relationship with the pastor, to have that much fun…

So anyway, yesterday, Easter happened.

There’s always a lot going on, on Easter Sunday. It’s a high holy! It’s a day wherein many people who don’t normally get to church … put on their finery and get to church. A chance to maybe hook them back into the church game? Or to inspire a person or two to check out the choir on a more regular basis? Let’s not hold back. Best foot forward, and all that.

Yesterday, up on the Chancel platform, we had twenty choir singers, a pack of instrumentalists, our resident Unbelievable Guitarist, some nearly-9-year-old kid who knows his way around a drum kit, and a soloist who opened the service with a cover of Kelly Mooney’s new Easter lyrics for Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

We didn’t have to hire a one of them. They all were members or friends of the congregation. Teens through senior citizens, every last one.

(They’re worth a ton; and their reward awaits them both in Heaven and also the next time someone sees them and says, “man! the music was a blast Sunday!” … but nothing comes out of the payroll.)

There are choirs out there with paid section leaders and soloists. There are churches who, if they want trumpets on Easter, have to put an ad on the gig board at the local university and hope someone answers it.

Happily … fortunately … not here in Sudbury.

I had a number of “moments” yesterday, and here are three:

[1] I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed an Easter service opening as much as I did this year’s 9:30am service. When Patty Helsingius gently brought the congregation along with her, to sing the Cohen “Hallelujah” refrain, in the midst of a darkened sanctuary, it felt like one of those wonderful Christmas Eve “don’t wake the kid” moments.

[2] We got to the end of the “Easter Wings” anthem that I’d written for choir and wind ensemble, and genuinely thought, “yep, that’s better than my imagination had expected.”

And [3], an odd time for a “moment”, but true: during the warmup before the 9:30 service, we were running the hymn arrangements. Somewhere in the middle of the second verse of “Crown Him With Many Crowns”, for which I’d written brass and wind parts that were, let’s say, active … I could not keep a stupid, silly grin off my face. The assembled winds were *playing the heck out of those parts*. To the point that [a] I thought we should go into the studio and record, some day, and [b] several of our choir members applauded when we got done. Now come on! Hymns are routine, straightforward, not usually the kinds of things that draw applause anyway, yes? … Well, when folks bring their A-game, sometimes it doesn’t matter whether it’s the “Hallelujah Chorus” or “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad” … it gets a response.

For me, the true joy of the day, beyond the actual point of Easter (“He is risen indeed!”) is so often (but especially yesterday) this: we do all this together, all of us on the SUMC “homegrown musician” roster. That’s what takes it to The Next Level.

It’s the kind of thing that makes the post-Easter afternoon crash feel like it was cheerfully earned.

Happy Easter, indeed.


April 6, 2015 - Posted by | arranging, choir, music, SUMC | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Such a gift, that I get to join in the joyful song…thank you!

    Comment by Cindi | April 6, 2015 | Reply

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