We're All Going To Hell

9:50 AM

On Thursday nights I have church choir rehearsal from 7:00-8:00, or whenever we finish up. Last night we ran late due to unbearable silliness.

The choir is small on its best days--last night there were three of us there: the director (who also happens to be my mother); one of the altos; and me. This, naturally, provided the perfect recipe for trouble.

We are singing a lot of spirituals, both as anthems and as congregational hymn, during Lent and Holy Week this year. However, we are a very white choir. Very. White. So, my poor mother tries to find ways of making us sound a little less so. Sing like an opera singer. Do this. Try that. And at times like this, I'm always reminded of my college Concert Choir Director, Dr. Howard. I did my undergraduate work at UNH, and our choir there was also very white. Dr. Howard, however, was not. And he would tell us, particularly when we were working on spirituals, that although we were all his little white children, he would make it so no one would know that by listening to us. Well, K.E., the intrepid alto who made it to rehearsal last night, also sang for Dr. Howard (her experience was during an NH All-State festival). She told a story about a group of white high school-aged kids from NH singing a jazz mass and Dr. Howard trying to coax a less-white sound from the ensemble. After trying a number of things, he tells them: "Close your eyes. Imagine you are in New York City and you're in a part of town where there are hookers walkin' the streets. And you see this woman in a red dress cut down to here (points at midsection) and up to here (points to hip). Now I want you to sound like that dress looks."

Naturally, this works. It works as well, if not better, than Mom telling us to imagine we're opera singers. However, it leads to a number of red dress comments throughout the rest of the evening. I said I'd wear mine to church on Sunday
(I think it's even "cut down to there"), since we're singing I Want Jesus to Walk With Me.

Then we pull out Easter music. We'll be singing Wade in the Water during the Baptism at the Easter Vigil. Everything goes fine until we get to the second verse:

See that band all dressed in red.
God's a-gonna trouble the water.
Looks like the band that Moses led.
God's a-gonna trouble the water.

Needless to say, we could not make it through verse two of this particular spiritual. All we could picture was Moses with a band of hookers wearing red dresses cut down to there and up to here. I'm wondering how we're going to make it through the hymn at the Easter Vigil. Fortunately, we have several weeks to build up our resolve and/or pray for strength. After all, the responses during the baptismal covenant are "I will, with God's help."

In the meantime, Mom has told me to save the red dress for Pentecost.

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