Monday, May 11, 2020

Unbroken Circles

My church has been doing a variety of projects to celebrate Mother's Day.  Last week, a group of us got together to create a version of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."  One of us had only been playing mandolin for 2 weeks, but you wouldn't know it from her skill when she played with us.  One of us has banjo skills that he doesn't often display at church.  We had organ, flute, percussion, tambourine, and of course, voices.

On Saturday, our pastor posted the first of our video projects, a collection of songs and photos.  My spouse was so crushed that our song didn't make the cut.  But happily, our song didn't make the cut because our project was released as a solo project.

Yesterday, I made this Facebook post:  "Something different from what I usually post: a group of us at my church put together a special song for Mother's Day. As I look at it now and think about the latest advice about singing in groups with a virus ravaging the planet, I realize we are much too close to each other. Still, I hope you enjoy."

You, too, can view the video here.

I am not crazy about my singing voice in the video.  Happily, my spouse sang the verses, and he really carries us.

I remind myself that we only rehearsed the song for about 20 minutes before the worship service.  After the service, we ran through it several times, and then we recorded.  There's a version that I don't have yet; for our first recording, the camera stayed steady, and I'm guessing that our voices sounded more unified.

In the version that's up now, our pastor walked among us as we sang.  And yes, let me just say that I am relieved that no one is sick at this point, and it's been 8 days, so I'm hoping that we aren't going to be punished for the risk that we took that we didn't really realize we were taking.

In this version, as our pastor is close to us, you can hear our individual voices. I think we sound better as a chorus when you can't pick out our voices.  I've been feeling bad about my singing voice since--well, forever--and I wonder if now is the time for voice lessons.

But what I love about this type of music is that it can accommodate a variety of voices.  If you listen to various versions, you'll hear people who would never be successful opera singers or featured choir members.  Some of those people, like the Carter family, have become musical icons.

After church service streaming yesterday, a group of us stayed to talk about our approach to choir in light of the news about the risks of COVID-19 transmission by way of singing.  We have a small choir now, only about 6 people.  Should we quit having live singing during the livestream?  Should we space the choir members out across the sanctuary? 

I'm not sure what we'll decide.

As we talked, I thought about a quote from Maria Popova's Figuring:  "One of the greatest betrayals of our illusion of permanence, one of the sharpest daggers of loss, is the retroactive recognition of lasts--the last time you sat across from a person you now know you will never see again, the last touch of a hand, the last carefree laugh over something spoken in the secret language that binds two people in intimacy--lasts the finality of which we can never comprehend in the moment, lasts we experience with sundering shock in hindsight" (p. 184).

I think we will be able to sing again, maybe even in close proximity.  But one of the things that makes our recording for Mother's Day so poignant is that we may not sing like that for a very long time.

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