When my pastor husband, Richard, and I lived in Bloomington, New York, I became the choir director. The choir was small, usually not more than ten, but we had all four parts covered.
The choir had a favorite Christmas Anthem, The Snow Lay on the Ground, which they loved to sing and did it well–almost every time.
It was Christmas Eve. Our regular organist was away and Audrey had agreed to substitute. We had practiced with her, but she was still very nervous about playing for the choir. I wanted all the anthems to go as smooth as possible. We were singing several during the service.
The Snow Lay on the Ground was the opening of the evening service. The organist played the short introduction. I brought my arms down to start the choir. The choir came in with gusto–a quarter of the note sharp(too high). I thought, we’ll get through this first part, they’ll hear the organ’s pitch and all will return to normal. It didn’t happen. The choir was in perfect pitch with one another, but not with the organ. It was if the organ wasn’t there.
If our normal organist had been playing, I’d simply waved to her to quit playing. But Audrey was so nervous, I thought if I asked her to stop playing, she would think she had done something wrong. It would have wiped her out for the rest of the service.
The choir continued on its merry way, thoroughly enjoying the music with not a clue they were off pitch. They finished perfectly together in perfect harmony.
It was the first and last time I ever had it happen. I continued to direct different choirs for the next forty years. There were times, the choir or I weren’t in sync with the accompaniment, and I stopped the choir to begin again. Never again did a group sing more enthusiastically and just enough off to be painful.
The choir redeemed itself as they sang all the rest of the anthems just as we’d practiced. Perhaps the choir members forgot that evening. It makes me smile to remember. I’m sure God smiled, too.