Sunday, January 10, 2010

Playing by ear

"Beloved, God's chosen put on as a garment
Compassion, forgiveness, and goodness of heart."

This was a week in which Plan B was used on several occasions. The overall plan for me was to be rehearsal and Sunday service at First Unitarian Universalist Church on Ann Arbor-Saline Road in Pittsfield Township. However, because I was notified of cancellation of their Thursday evening rehearsal due to weather, and because I consider rehearsal to be an important part of the Itinerant Chorister experience, I decided to postpone my visit to that church and instead sang at the church at which I am a member, Zion Lutheran at 1501 W. Liberty in Ann Arbor.

At Zion also, Plan B held sway. Their usual Thursday evening choir rehearsal was also canceled, and some dominoes fell as a result of that. The choir's scheduled anthem for the offertory time was replaced by a piece for organ, and the organ postlude also had a substitute. However, the choir did lead the opening hymn, which was new to most people--"Beloved, God's Chosen" with lyrics by Michael Burkhardt. It doesn't exist in any of the three hymn books that sit in the racks of the choir loft at Zion, but was sung from sheet music and lyrics printed in the bulletin. This hymn about baptism set the tone for the service about baptism on the Sunday of the Baptism of Our Lord.

Choir director Rob Meyer got to trot out one of his favorite sayings about what the choir does on Sunday mornings: "We always process into the church, except when we don't." Since the choir was purposely helping the congregation to learn this opening hymn, we started in the front of the church, and didn't process in.

Pastor Mike Walters followed the theme with a sermon titled "Baptism and Belonging." He reiterated that he is a great believer in belonging, as opposed to joining. I.e. being in a faith is a perpetual state of belonging to and being in a relationship to God and your fellow believers (or to all people), not a single event. He pointed out that God is the main actor in baptism.

With much work leading up to Christmas and some time for a break afterward, then a weather cancellation, the choir had not rehearsed an anthem for today. So the planned "When Jesus Came to Jordan" by Trapp was scratched, and during the offertory, organist Elgin Clingaman played "Es ist ein Rose Entsprungen" by a composer whose name I didn't catch. For the postlude, Elgin substituted "Allegro" by William Boyce for what was listed in the bulletin as "Trumpet Tune" by David Johnson, a different piece than the famous one by Henry Purcell. The prelude also followed the theme of Jesus' baptism--"Christ Unser Herr, zum Jordan Kamm" by J. S. Bach.

The visit to First Unitarian Universalist Church will be scheduled for another time. Tentative plan for next week--Dixboro United Methodist Church.

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