Sunday, 3 May 2009

Feeling sheepish

It is Good Shepherd Sunday. My memory of this story from childhood is always one of wondering, if one sheep got lost and the shepherd went after it, who looked after the rest of the flock while the shepherd was away looking? Yeah, I was missing the point a bit.

Today I missed Evensong. I went to the church in the area where I teach, where I usually go for Evensong on Sundays if I'm not able to get to Leafy Suburb Church or elsewhere. It has become a sort of default option. I turned up. I started folding up my bicycle. I realised nobody was there.

Default Option Church is okay. They do well, I think, to have Evensong most Sundays. They're not unfriendly, not as welcoming as Leafy Suburb Church but they probably just don't know what to make of me. The sermons range from good to wishy-washy to downright confusing.

I've been telling myself that I go for the music.

The choir usually outnumbers the congregation. The singing is directed with care and a great deal of precision but lacks a certain passion and doesn't take risks, the hymnody is often planned in such a way that doesn't encourage congregational participation (alternating women and men for verses when there aren't many strong singers in the congregation means people get lost; and I can't easily sing the soprano line for consecutive verses in many hymns so generally stick to harmony except for first and last). Overall my impression is that it's a little insipid and uninspiring. But... I turn up anyway. I can't easily get to another service most Sundays. I turn up, and I sing the hymns, and I try to take something from the sermon, and I try to notice what the music is trying to do, and I sing along in the psalmody, sotto voce and slightly behind because I don't have the dots to tell me what notes are next.

I knew sooner or later I'd turn up and there wouldn't be a service, and tonight it happened, and there was nothing for it but to head home.

I didn't expect it to upset me so much. I guess I am there for more than just the music.

I read the Evening Prayer service from the Book of Common Worship courtesy of the C of E website and then took a psalter and went to sit in the park and sing... sotto voce again so as not to attract undue attention. And the park got dark and cold and I came home. And saw this post, among others.

There's rather a lot of church on the internet after all.


it's margaret said...

"I am there for more than just the music."

My earliest formation was in a children's choir. I went just for the music--- it's as good a place (if not better) as any to start.

Have a blessed Monday, Song.

Song in my Heart said...

As a child I don't remember /not/ being involved in church choirs... if I could sing in it I did. I think I'd have found my experience of church far less tolerable if I hadn't had the music to keep me going.

Thank you.