Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pentecost Service

We had a fantastic service this morning! Of course, it was Pentecost service, but it was also Confirmation Sunday, complete with a baptism of one of the confirmands. The confirmands were the liturgists and read their statements of faith to the congregation. Oh, and we also had communion. I am exhausted, but also very full and satisfied with how the Spirit blew through our congregation today.

I did, however, have a perplexing encounter with our music director. I heard the choir rehearsing the final hymn, "Spirit," and the organist was playing it as slow as a funeral dirge. I asked if it could please be played more quickly, as I was trying to create a joyful and celebratory mood for worship. The music director got annoyed, and in front of the choir, told me that I needed to arrange these kinds of changes beforehand. I repeated that I wanted it played faster and left. I wasn't asking for any major change like adding a hymn or asking for a soloist on a verse. Was I off base?

9 comments:

more cows than people said...

o.k. i'm consulting my husband the music director. he wonders if you have a pattern in place of consulting with the musician about desires for the music in the service in advance of the service (week before)- say a staff meeting or something- if so, he thinks sharing such desires in advance is to be desired- "I'd like the music upbeat and joyful, taken at faster tempos when possible." He does think that that is a piece that could be interpreted quickly or slowly and so some prior conversation could have been helpful. He likened the emotional experience of the musical director getting last minute input to my experience of being told several new announcements on my way into the service (something that happens ALL THE TIME btw). That said, he thinks the music director was out of line to talk to you about his frustration in front of the choir.

Personally, I don't think you were asking that much, I don't think you were out of line, but I appreciated my husband's balanced perspective and hope you don't mind me sharing it here. And I do think it blows that he scolded you in front of the choir. Ick.

And I agree with you that that piece can be done deathly slow.

And I am SO glad you had a wonderful Pentecost service. Sounds like it was fabulous.

more cows than people said...

My husband thought about it some more and wondered if receiving the tempo suggestion in front of the choir felt to the music director like his suggestion to you of bringing desires like that in advance in front of the choir felt to you.

He is very good at helping me see where folks are coming from, and he does have an inside take on this, I don't know how many times I've sprung much more demanding requests on him at the last minute- and boy do I know the effect of that on the drive home.

I try to go through everything with him in advance, but obviously I probably have a lot more opportunity for this than you do.

Sheesh. Sorry to hijack your blog.

I think you rock, Iris.

towanda said...

our dude played all three hymns (including "Spirit") as dirges today, including one that says "happy and with a driving beat" at the top. Shouldn't need me to tell him what that means.

But he's outa here.

You might just check in with your musician, if you don't have that consulting process in place that more cows mentions, to ask "how might we both do this better next time?"

And more cows is right. You do rock! ;-)

Iris said...

Thank you both so much.

Towanda, I like your suggestion of asking him, "how can we both do better?"

More Cows, I was hoping that I could get a church musician's perspective on this. I've had a nap and I see now that I do need to apologize to him and also tell him how it felt to be scolded in front of the choir.

I also know that I have been easily rattled and irritated lately (see last Sunday's post) and the common denominator is me. I have a vacation coming up in two weeks and it can't come soon enough.

jledmiston said...

We had the EXACT same thing happen -- same hymn, etc.

Our organist also played it a bit slowly, until the last verse.

And now . . . a federal holiday off. Nice.

Karla MG said...

As a church musician who tends to play much faster than our music director likes, I get the scolding thing, but not from the pastor! She often rants at me to "slow down, we can't breathe, remember there are old people here." Ummm, yeah...and there are young ones too! Sometimes, I wanna tell her to come with me to the UCC where I'm a member...if she thinks I'm fast, boy is she in for a race to a 5 alarm fire with that organist! But, after being cued that I need to "accept her direction, that's her job" I bite my tongue, slow a bit, but never as much as she wants, and if it's a peace like Spirit, or Every Time I Feel the Spirit, I hold my ground completely but tactfully, and call on my limited but still there "professional organ training" Hehehe! Hang in there, and yeah, try to the "how can we do this better next time" and see what comes. IF I ever had a dif w/ the pastor, I'd be open to that. I've been blessed in getting along great with all the pastors I've worked with, and usually on the same theological/spiritual page as them.

Songbird said...

I was snide yesterday to my musician, because the first question I heard yesterday was this:
"Pastor, will your prayer be patriotic?"
Memorial Day + Pentecost= Musical Trainwreck
Let's hope we all get along better next week.

Iris said...

Karla, thanks for your inside take on this. I think it really does help to have musicians who are on, as you said, "the same spiritual/theological page" as the pastor. One of my major problems with this music director is that he has more of a performance mentality and less of a worship centered approach to our music. In fact, he generally doesn't stay for the remainder of the worship service after the choir sings, which is easy to do because we have a choir loft.

Songbird, I completely agree with you about trying to combine Pentecost and Memorial Day. Yikes! I think my congregation, gratefully, was comfortable with idea that Penecost, baptism, and confirmation were more important this Sunday!

Karla MG said...

Quick note on the "combined" holidays... I played "Spirit Song" for Prelude. Then for the first "special" my DD1 played "The Marine Hymn" on Bb Clarinet(I played the duet part on the organ w/ the clarinet MIDI card)...she's 10, it was at the end of lesson book one, so it was short. A member of our congegration, a retired Marine (who sings internationally) did an original piece about the pride and patriotism a vet's dad has and with God's love for his people. For offertory, I messed around with "Spirit of the Living God" (I often take hymns and just play with them, doing my own theme and variations, more less made up as I go...don't ever ask me to play the same thing twice!). All 3 hymns were Pentecost standards. Then for Postlude, I played "Battle Hymn of the Republic" to touch back into the patriotic side.