Today is All Saints Day - well, removed from last Thursday anyway. One of the joys of a major feast day is that no matter when it is celebrated through the week, it always makes its appearance at church next Sunday, at least in the Anglican faith it does. I have the feeling that the only reason All Saints' Day receives this status is because of Ralph Vaughan Williams - however I'm good with that.
It didn't get off to a great start. I didn't sleep all that well, mainly due to having a very large empty bed, with my wife away at a conference, and also due to a late arriving house guest who was caught in the snow storm south of the city. Yes - snow. Winter seems to be here. Then there was the daunting thought that after church I would have to stick around for a bit while someone ran an audition in the church, and then I had to head off to rehearse music with the city's professional choir for which the music, as stated earlier, was not something I was looking forward too. Once I had to leave the house at 8:30 am, I would not plan to return until close to dinner time.
After a stop through Tim Horton's on the way to church for the ubiquitous "Medium, double cream and a toasted bagel with cream cheese", I planned my day through the rest of the short drive to Church. I COULD get through the afternoon rehearsal, smiling the whole time, for there was a full bottle of Shiraz on the wine rack with my name on it. I wonder if I could train the cats to open it around 4:30 so that it had 45 minutes to breathe before I got home?
Church was great as predicted, R. Vaughan Williams in at least three separate occasions, including Sine Nomine "For All the Saints" - a definite top ten on the "favourite hymns to play and sing" list. The service did go a bit overtime, however, not to worry - if there wasn't this audition scheduled at the church, or if I didn't have my 2PM rehearsal, it could have gone all day for all I cared. I'll get back to this audition later.
As I arrived at my "not looking forward to this" rehearsal - the accompanist, who is also the organist and choirmaster of the Anglican Cathedral asked if I could sing Evensong - as he was short of tenors. I didn't hesitate much, and said I would. I had already paid for parking directly outside the cathedral for the day due to the afternoon rehearsal, and besides, I love Evensong. Perhaps there'd be another opportunity to sing Sine Nomine.
The rehearsal was also not a complete waste of time. It is starting to come together a bit, and there are at least two Beatles' arrangements we learned today, that I probably wouldn't be upset to sing again - so that was a bit of a relief.
From Rehearsal - to Evensong rehearsal at 5:30 pm, no time for dinner, to evensong itself at 7:00 PM, still no dinner. Never mind though - great anthems - great canticles - and yes, the final hymn: Sine Nomine. I sat in the congregation during the postlude, a wickedly atonal voluntary by Langlais - for which the congregation didn't move for a good three minutes afterwards - I'm not sure they new if, when or, in some cases perhaps, why to applaud, so they didn't. I figured they were awe struck ... or perhaps ... just "struck". My mind went through the events of the day - from getting up and not looking forward to the middle part of the day - to sitting in the Cathedral at 8 PM with no food in my stomach for quite some time, as content as I could very well be.
My thoughts shifted back to the audition that happened at my church in the afternoon. The auditionee, a young, barely twenty, soprano was auditioning with a few of the slower arias from Handel's Messiah "He shall feed his flock" being one of them, "How beautiful are the feet" the other. They started 30 minutes late, due to the length of the service (a parish photograph near the start of the service put us overtime - but what a lovely gift to our retiring Bishop it will be!) - the accompanist was understanding of the situation at first. Until the audition turned into a coaching session by the "auditioner" (excuse me for making up words). Visibly, the accompanist became extremely agitated by the fact that her time was being "wasted" at a session for which she thought she would be only two minutes. The session ended up being over twenty minutes long. Every passing minute she became more visibly agitated. Adding to the fire was when the "auditioner"acutally began suggesting ways for which the associate professor of music could improve her accompanying. She finally got up and left in a huff, so I took her place. I'm not sure if she really had to "be" somewhere, however I suppose she felt as she was only being paid for the audition, that it was in her right to leave - even though the young girl was getting what turned out to be a free lesson from a very reputable clinician. Perhaps she was in her right.
Back to the pew at the Cathedral - the final chords (or discords) of the Langlais filling the nave - I couldn't help to think that I had just donated three extra hours of my day - just for the thought that I might get to sing Sine Nomine one more time. And yet for one person - twenty minutes of their time was twenty minutes too many.
When I arrived home after dinner, which we had with the choir of the cathedral at a small Polish bistro, popular to local musicians in the city, it was nearly 10 PM. The cats were happy to see me, in other words - they were hungry beyond reason - the bottle of Shiraz will have to wait another day.
I do have time to sing two more verses before bed though:
"The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.