Sunday, October 22, 2006
Put together a group of 20 people from all over Scotland - Moray, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Argyll dioceses, from South Uist to Dalkeith - ranging in ages from 40ish to 80ish, who have never sung together before and who in some cases have never done more than sing hymns in church congregations. Work them hard for a day, with vocal exercises, with unison singing, with harmony and with plainsong. At the end of that day, before they stagger exhausted to bed, involve them in singing Compline, entirely in plainsong. On Sunday, they fill the choirstalls and sing a new communion service, on which the ink has just dried, by John McIntosh (aka Mr B, but here operating very much in his own hat) who has by now brought them to such a pitch that they barely recognise themseves. They sing Arcadelt's Ave Maria, in Latin, as a communion motet, and they realise they are achieving a unity.
It was an unlikely thing to do - but it worked. I'm really glad I thought of it (she said modestly) and that I can call on such great musicians as Mr B and our friend Alastair at the cathedral. Talking of modesty - the reading at Morning Prayer (yes - we had that too) today was from Thomas Merton, about humility. About feeling comfortable with the reasons you had done things - at least, that was one angle. This weekend felt good, to me