Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hail the Day

Ascension Sunday and there was quite a volume of singing in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church, Ashland this morning.
A number of forces came together to encourage congregational singing:
1) Two of the three hymns were known to the congregation and are very 'singable'
2) Red Team, in its current unamplified incarnation, has reached a critical mass of singers - three on melody, two altos, two tenors and two basses.  I think I have discovered that--when unamplified-- a group of people singing is a good way to encourage a group of people to sing!
3) Libby spent a lot of time with the arrangements to make sure that our odd little ensemble sounded good. It is a strange assortment: clarinet, trombone, accordion, violin and two guitars.
Check out the volume of the congregation:
Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise
The Head That Once Was Crowned With Thorns

The final hymn was the South African, Hallelujah We Sing Your Praises.
I think we sound good but we didn't do enough to make the congregation feel comfortable -- and the interesting clapping at the end probably didn't help (memo to self: sort the clapping out before you start!)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A new hit with an unknown oldie

Nothing much to report other than our discovery of a GREAT old hymn that I dug up via YouTube for today's lectionary reading (Jn 15:1-8). What I heard was an old American hymn called "I am the Vine" with those beautiful open fourths and fifths. A bit more googling found me the score. Libby and I worked on it with guitar and accordion and suddenly we had something that sounded like it belonged on the Cohen brothers' True Grit! We took it down a whole step to make the chorus a little more comfortable.
This morning we added Mary and Allie's fiddles.
I was sure the congregation would learn it quickly -- when I listened back to the recording I was amazed to hear the congregation come busting in on the first line after the fiddle had played the melody once.
Check it out: I am the Vine
In introducing the song, I asked people to let me know after the service if they had sung it before -- no one had.

We also did a couple of other unusual numbers: the spiritual Lord I want to be a Christian  and Sidney Carter's Lord of the Dance set to the Shaker Tune SIMPLE GIFTS. I didn't think Lord of the Dance was unusual until the organist who has been at her console for around forty years told me the congregation had never sung it before.