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Carols…at Warp Speed


Speed networking and dating are well entrenched in our culture, but speed carolling?  In a church?  By Presbyterians?  Yikes!

By anyone’s account, especially my own, I’m pretty much a heathen.  After years of attending church as a kid (my mum was high Anglican which, by default, rendered my dad low United), I dropped out when I went away to uni.  I couldn’t see the relevance to my life.  In the intervening years, other than my parents’ memorials and my wedding, I haven’t been to church much.   That having been said, I’ve always loved church music.  (My piano teacher was an organist and ensured we learned to play hymns as well as the Conservatory curriculum).

Early in December, the Presbyterian church a block from my downtown home, circulated an invitation to people in the ‘hood to a not-so-old-fashioned carol sing.  The goal?  To sing as many carols as we could in 2 hours.  How could I resist that challenge?  But would lightening bolts pierce the roof if I set foot in a church after such a prolonged absence?

I recruited a friend and her sister with a developmental disability to join in the fun.   We donned our gay apparel and walked over.  The minister, a tall Scot with the most delightful brogue,  led the singing and provided a brief commentary on the history of each song.  We started with the first carol in the hymnal and belted it out.

I quickly realized three things:  First, I can no longer easily read the print, even with trifocals, so I had to fiddle with holding the book far away then pushing my glasses onto to my head so I could read it up close.  Second, my voice range has become much more limited so finding a single key in which to sing comfortably is more challenging; was that wobbly old lady voice coming out of my own lips?  I thought I sounded much better singing in the car!   Third, the average age of this congregation is old, even older than I am as a middle aged plus person.  There was only one family with young children in the audience.

On we sang.  Two minutes short of two hours, we wrapped up, an all time record!  I’d sung all my favourites and was introduced to a number of carols I’d never heard, many from other cultures.  The minister concluded the service by encouraging us us to google “Claymation Christmas” (a blast from the past by the California raisins!) and to sing along with We Three Kings.  Claymation Christmas (along with The Christmas Story featuring Ralphie and the leg lamp) has been a tradition in my family for years and still cracks me up.

So…I’ve also broken my own record this year, being to church twice in three months.  Maybe I’m becoming more tolerant.  Maybe the church is becoming more relevant.  I don’t see me becoming a “church lady” like my mum any time soon but who knows what the new year might bring…Merry Christmas to all!