Conversation and information about music and liturgy from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Let There Be Gin

Our esteemed colleague Jacquelyn Magnuson recently put this awesome story up on FB, so we asked if we could share it here. It's instructive as well as amusing, and a great reminder to all of us to always do our homework. Enjoy!

Let There Be Gin: A lesson on the importance of practicing
During my senior year of college, a friend and I sang the hymn "Scatter the Darkness, Break the Gloom" (LSB 481) at church. This was our first encounter with this hymn, and it came as a somewhat last-minute request from the kantor that we sing a duet to introduce the hymn to the congregation, who would sing it for the first time the following week.
So we arrived at the church early. We were left to run through the hymn on our own as the kantor was getting ready for the prelude. We agreed that it would be a good idea to sing through all the stanzas so that we wouldn't stumble over words during the service.
It's a good thing we did. Stanzas one and two went off without a hitch. Then came stanza three (do you see where this is going yet?):
"Crying and sighs, give way to singing:
Life from death, our Lord is bringing!
Let there be... gin"
Yes, gin. Let there be gin. Not one, but both of us somehow overlooked the hyphen in the word "be-gin", which unfortunately occurs at a line break in the LSB. Cue the uncontrollable laughter. Cue the writing in our hymnals to make sure we'd get it right later. Well, it went smoothly during the service, but thankfully that line is at the end of the hymn, because it was hard to keep a straight face with the mishap so recent in memory. I cringe when I think what might have happened had we not rehearsed before the service.
Lesson learned? Never, ever play or sing for a church service without practicing. (There are a few exceptions when this is actually unavoidable, but they are rare.) Even for those hymns that we have played hundreds of times. Even for that instrumental part that is incredibly easy. Even singing a hymn we've known since we were young children. Always practice everything. Why? Because as church musicians, we ought not be a distraction. Sure, mistakes happen, and quite often. But to make mistakes and cause distraction because we're unprepared is unacceptable. I'll save the more serious side of this topic for another time, but suffice it to say, the importance of practicing cannot be understated. And it'll inevitably save us some embarrassment along the way too.
Oh, and the actual hymn text? "Let there begin the jubilee-- Christ has gained the victory!" Christ is risen and is bringing us out of death to life. Indeed, a much better thing to sing about than gin!

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