Imagine yourself in a warm summer’s evening, sitting in the vestry, behind the heavy purple curtain, halfway down a good bottle of ‘communion red.’ It’s a good place to start.
You have found the Evangelists in rude health. Often vulgar, discordant and indeed tuneless, they are going forward full of vim & vigour in their tatty community centre. So why is it that friends in your own choir, who have perfect pitch, whose voices melt the most frozen of hearts are struggling to pull in the congregation on a Sunday evening?
Pour yourself another glass and have a nibble of that Cashel blue. Wafers? We have box loads. Help yourself.
GRATUITOUS CALMING PICTURE
The answer is that it’s all our own fault.
Yes. Quite simply, we found the Evangelists difficult to get on with and so took a couple of steps to the right of the melee and carried on without them. After all, why sing beautifully if everyone else is screaming and shouting and no-one is listening?
So, we spruced up our own places, so that they are fresh and beautiful. Now the calls and responses are once more a wonder of cadence and style. Gone are the strident hoodlums who wrecked our happiness; they have all joined the others in the shabby hut.
However, as wonderful as it is to sing with like-minded folk, we are generally singing the same material every Sunday with the same accompaniment. It’s a beautiful experience but every now and then it’s good to try a little modern music. The lyrics may not always be to our taste but just occasionally there is a blinding flash of brilliance: a new voice soaring above the hubbub with such clarity and strength that everyone is drawn to it.
But why did the new chorister gravitate to the brash community? This is easily answered: Why would he go anywhere else?
The Evangelists advertise themselves constantly. They are magnificent at ‘networking’. When new choristers appear, straight away they are welcomed into the bosom of that family. The new boy may be inexperienced, raw perhaps, but all can see his qualities. Over time, more and more new boys arrive and so the other place becomes more vibrant with every recruit. The lights are brighter than ever whilst over at our place we are singing to our friendly but dwindling, ageing congregation.
What we should never forget is, as well as being members of the choir, we are part of the same congregation. Broadly, we hold the same beliefs. We should take an active part in all the community’s affairs. Not all the other services are ‘shouty’ and brash. I suppose we can ignore the worst of those places, as that is good for our blood pressure. I am aware of a few high profile choristers who rarely make an appearance at others’ services and are bemused when there is the occasional remark made about their apparent aloofness.
So, this is a call to re-populate the other places. Putting your fingers in your ears and ignoring it is not a healthy option. There are choristers out there who need to get down and dirty and mix it with the new crowd. When you meet them in the flesh, they are not a bad lot. Try it. You’ll love it.
I’ll have another glass of that ‘communion red’ now, thank you.