Almost half of the choir was missing at 6:57. Some were chatting in the lobby, but most were either still at home or on their way. The empty seats wouldn’t be full until almost 7:30. And rehearsal only lasted until 8:00!
Jonathan, the director, shuffled his sheet music and glanced at his watch. 6:59.
Some of the choir was ready. The bass section was always there, but since there were only five of them, and three were on the church staff, that was not surprising. The tenors were low, and he was missing half of the sopranos and almost a third of the altos.
At 7:00, Jonathan picked up his baton and cleared his throat to begin. He gave the announcements and talked about the music for the upcoming Christmas cantata.
“The Christmas books will be in next week, so please be on time for rehearsal, so we can get a good start on that. Now, let’s get out the music for Sunday: Amazing Grace. I want to really work this piece since it’s a new arrangement for most of you.”
Three women entered, laughing loudly. They got quiet and hurried to their seats. Patty Holmes, a soprano, took her place on the front row.
“What song are we starting with?” She leaned over Tammy Anderson’s shoulder to see her music. Tammy, a timid woman in her mid-thirties, blushed and tilted her folder so Patty could see.
“We are starting with Amazing Grace,” Jonathan called from the music stand. The two altos who had come in with Patty shuffled noisily through their folders.
“Tom, please start with the full intro.” The pianist began to play.
After two measures of music, three more choir members snuck in: John Peters, the loudest tenor, his wife Sandy and her sister, Emily Jenkins, both sopranos. Trying to be inconspicuous, they moved quickly towards their seats, but Sandy’s large black purse knocked Jonathan’s music stand over with a crash, spilling his music all over the ground.
Sandy was mortified, “Oh, I’m sorry!” Jonathan signaled Tom to stop playing. A few chuckles rippled across the singers as they righted the stand and picked up the music.
Jonathan looked a little flustered. “Okay…well, while I re-sort my music, why don’t we share prayer requests and pray. We’ll finish with our music for Sunday.”
A few more latecomers entered and quickly found their seats. 7:17. Jonathan opened the floor for prayer requests.
Mrs. Johnson’s sister was having tests on Friday. Amber Rhoades was searching for a new job. James Peart wanted prayer for a neighbor. There were four unspoken requests.
Patty Holmes spoke up. “We need to pray for the pastor’s son, Johnny. Ben told me that Johnny was hurt on recess today.”
The desired wave of shock hit the choir immediately. “Is he okay?” “What happened?” “Shane told me an ambulance came on the playground today, but he didn’t know what had happened!”
Jonathan hushed them and explained that Johnny had sprained his ankle during a game of soccer. It wasn’t serious; he had gone to the hospital but was already home. However, he would have to use crutches for a couple of weeks.
Jonathan asked for two volunteers to pray before they moved to music. Tom volunteered from the piano, as did Mark Potter. Jonathan bowed his head and glanced at his watch: 7:32. Two more altos slipped to their seats.
The prayers ended at 7:48.
Quickly, Jonathan grabbed his baton. “All right, everyone, let’s stand up and work on our song for Sunday. Go ahead, Tom.”
They sang the song through once and sat down. It was 7:55. Two of the sopranos who had come on time quietly shouldered their purses. The basses closed their song books.
Jonathan looked at his music. 7:57. He put down his baton.
“I guess that’s all we’re going to get done tonight. Please be on time on Sunday morning, so that we can run through the song before the service. Have a good night.”
The choir room was empty by 8:02. Jonathan righted the chairs and walked to the door. “Someday,” he said to the empty room, “I want to do some singing at choir.” He flipped off the light as he left.
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