the last choir rehearsal


This morning we are celebrating a memorial service for a parishioner. He was a long time member of the church and also sang in the choir for a while under my direction. The church was needed at times yesterday for the family to view the body and have time with it. I worked around that by going in the morning to practice.

While I was carefully rehearsing Sunday’s prelude, a parishioner came and stood by the organ. When I could, I stopped and said hello. The woman was elderly, another long time member who had recently buried her husband. She asked me if I had any West Virginia music for the man who died. I said we’d see what we could do. She repeated her comment. I told her she would have to talk to Rev Jen as Jen is the one who makes all these decisions.

Then the woman said, that no, she wasn’t asking about the memorial service. She wanted me to play something right then. I said, no, I don’t have time. I am working on something.

She went away.

I returned in the evening for the choir rehearsal. There was a reception in the deceased honor going on. The church commons area (between the door, the choir room, and the church) was filled with people standing around talking, eating and drinking. There were the usual pictures of the deceased, the guest book, and flowers everywhere.

I had to cross the area to get to church for rehearsal. The widow from this morning caught my eye. She had earlier in the day, accosted me a second time from across the church, shouting about West Virginia music. As I moved toward the church, she grinned in a weird way and muttered something about West Virginia music. It occurred to me she was a bit tipsy.

The funeral people were going to move the body about fifteen minutes into my choir rehearsal. I decided it would be fitting if we sang him out since many of us in the room knew him. We grabbed the bulletins prepared for the memorial service and sang “Take me to the water” as they took the coffin away. It occurred to me that it was this was his last choir rehearsal for sure.

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