Last Sunday found me barely singing in the cantata at Lewis Center United Methodist Church. Those of you who know me, know I love to sing and I especially like to sing in Christmas Cantatas. Last year I sang with the Lewis Center choir in their cantata and Tamara, the director, welcomed me back this year. She gave me a copy of the cantata, “Have You Heard? A Celtic Christmas Celebration” by Joel Raney.
One of the things I really like about the Lewis Center choir is that they have special cantata practices on Saturday mornings. So if I want to sing in the cantata, I don’t have to learn all the Sunday anthems as well. I dutifully went to all the Saturday morning rehearsals in November.
And then I got sick. And lost my voice. I was going to go to the Saturday rehearsal anyway, but I was afraid I was still contagious and I was coughing so much I knew I wouldn’t be much good. As soon as I started feeling better, I tried to get my voice to loosen up so I could sing. I had nine days from the time I first got my voice back until the cantata.
At first I couldn’t sing at all. I could barely talk, and a short burst of conversation would leave me coughing. But gradually I began to be able to hit a few notes. Unfortunately they were about an octave below where I usually sing as a second soprano. I went to the Wednesday night rehearsal so I could be sure I knew the songs. During that rehearsal I could sing most of the tenor part and very little soprano. But I kept praying and hoping and singing along with every Christmas song on the radio.
At the Saturday morning dress rehearsal I could sing a little more. I could hit all the notes below middle C – unfortunately not frequently sung by sopranos. Even more surprising, with proper diaphragm support, I could hit above A with head voice. So the only notes that were problematic were the majority of notes that sopranos sing – the notes between middle c and a. I asked Tamara if I was hurting the choir by trying to sing, and she said no. She said she wanted me up there because I have “such an expressive face.” I appreciated that, but I was kind of depressed at barely being able to sing.
I hoped that I would improve and be able to hit more notes by Sunday morning, but Sunday morning found me with only a one or two note improvement over Saturday. Nevertheless, I went to Lewis Center and sang with the choir for the two performances of the cantata. Even though I could barely sing, I tried to convey my joy of being with the choir through my “expressive face.” Tom said he couldn’t tell there were notes I couldn’t hit. Even better he couldn’t hear any of the times my voice cracked. I rocked the high F’s, but they were really the only notes I could sing confidently and with my usual gusto. After the performances, Tamara invited me to sing with them again next year.
Life doesn’t always go the way we want. In fact, there are lots of times when it goes sideways on us. It was frustrating to feel well yet not be able to get the notes out the way I wanted. But, even in those frustrating times, God reminds us that he loves us and we are acceptable to him. And the psalmist doesn’t tell us to sing beautifully or be silent. Instead, in Psalm 100, he tells us:
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.