Sunday, June 09, 2002

I meant to say something here about Corpus Christi...
...but never got around to it. So instead, here's what I posted out on npmusers (nonlistees- you may sign up at NPM's web site):

This past Sunday was our last choir mass before summer vacation, ergo my last mass with the choir.

Corpus Christi gave us a chance to sing some of our best-executed and best-loved pieces:

Moore's Taste and See,
Haugen's Easter Alleluia,
Joncas' Lamb from Sing Praise and Thanksgiing,
Berthier's Eat This Bread,
Haas' Name of God, and
Toolan's I Am the Bread of Life.

It was magical. On a whim, I got Kenny, a teen choir grad, now part of the choir at U-M's student parish, to sit in the tenor section, which is usually just me. Everything was gorgeous! They also nailed my "No Longer Bread" (hymntune MARYTON, but my text and harmonization) - Kenny had never seen it before. And his presence allowed me to go up and receive communion at the end of the Taizè piece. I was nearly in tears as I received the precious Body and Blood of Christ, they sounded so beautiful (I'm getting verklempt now, just writing about it). They kept going a capella until I got back, and I finished on the Hammond (started on piano) - Then kicked into the Moore, had the guest tenor take a verse. We could do no wrong, despite a missing bass and a missing descant soprano.

I jumped on a slow spot after the announcements to make a quick mention that it was the choir's last mass before the summer, my voice started to crack, all of a sudden my co-director was bawling, the assembly was standing and applauding, the choir was pointing to me while I was pointing to them... It was a moment of pure love - THAT mass was truly a foretaste of heaven (okay, now I AM crying - hope my boss is gone already). Fr. got on mic to reassure Caroline it was okay to cry, which set her off again. The rest of us were pretty close to it... Then we recessed with Toolan, and the tears vanished.

Near the end of the mass, I kept finding myself needing to "take it higher" particularly in the Moore and Toolan, and I found myself doing accompaniment things I'd never done before - syncopated chord cluster stabs, a completely revamped gospelly approach to Toolan... I just asked the Holy Spirit to guide me hands, 'cos I was way past the bleeding edge of my abilities there - and everything seemed to work. It was a wonderful way to leave things...

...except I still had the 11:00 mass to do. As luck would have it, it was the third of my "three sopranos", AND the missing bass from the choir mass showed up, and Kathryn our bookkeeper, who is an excellent alto. And we did the choir magic, this time as a quartet, all over again! We swapped in Gift of Finest Wheat in place of MARYTON, and didn't quite scale all the soaring heights we hit at the choir mass, but it was gratifying to see a pick-up choir pull together like that.

And at the end of this one, Debbie was in tears. She'a a young mom, had been wanting so much to do this ministry (she joined up a year and a half ago), and was convinced that I was the only one she could work with. I cooled her out, and I think I half-convinced her that any DM worth his/her salt can and will bring out the best in the musicians they work with - it's part of our job. She DOES have a gorgeous voice, she just needs some melodic reinforcement to stay in tune - and this is mentioned in the set of notes I've prepared for my (as yet unnamed) successor.

I spent a good part of that morning encased in gooseflesh, as our choir(s) sounded the best they ever had, and I basked in the love of my friends. I'll be playing for another month, but at cantorless/choirless masses. I think everything from here on out will be denouement, but I will always cherish THIS week (also the teen choir's last week - they sang the Baccalaureate Service) as the time it all came together. Eye may not have seen what God has ready, but if it's anything like this, TAKE ME HOME JESUS!

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