Herding Cats

I often refer to the initial processional rehearsal (the one we have on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving) as one much like “herding cats”.  I need to quickly admit that this rehearsal, while not my least favorite (that one is always the Monday of Carols Week) but it is in no way my favorite.

Cat herding is best described by watching this EDS commercial from 2006. It is an excellent depiction of what this rehearsal is often like. Tuesday of last week was no exception.


During this rehearsal, I get to see if what I have laid out based on the set construction, the music, the program concept and some dumb luck will actually work. Never have I gotten it exactly like I think it should be the first time BUT thankfully I have never had to do a major redo either. Choir folks are patient to figure it out but it does often result in comical moments due to either failures to communicate (my problem) or failures to comprehend (choir member problem).

Wow – everyone made it to the Choir Loft. There were some 60 missing so next week we will shoe horn them in!

 Usually during this initial rehearsal is when I make my selection for the “Annual Inez Lambright Wandering in the Dark Award”.  While there have been a major oops once or twice over the last 24 years (my logistics tenure) during Carols Week (including during concerts), most often the most interesting confusion happens at this first rehearsal.

This award honors one of the finest choir members ever at FBCJ.  Ms. Inez was in her mid to late 70s when I first knew her and sang for many years in the Sanctuary Choir. She was also legally blind but every week got the hymns and anthem and memorized them and faithfully was in her place just about every time the doors of the church were open. 

During the early 1980’s, before the days of Cille (or anyone) directing logistics, we just got put in a place and figured out the best way to get to our place (all in the original Sanctuary).  This was complicated by a Carols program over a series of years where we changed clothes two or three times. The last change was to the formal concert look and then we did the Processional. To make a long story short, this particular year (I think it was 1981), we had a dress rehearsal where we got no sense of timing for the transitions between numbers and, in fact, did not finish the program during the rehearsal (fortunately that has never happened again).

Friday night, 7PM concert, processional music started and only about 20 folks were in the foyer ready to go on the downbeat. It was actually hysterical – folks came running down the aisles (with  their candles – we used lighted tapers in those days) and  staggered into their places. Just getting to place was hard – we had all sorts of temporary risers everywhere.

After that disaster, Evelyn Herm was up next to sing “O Holy Night” – she had to ask Larry (Black) to stop because she was out of breath. He did, she regrouped, and sang beautifully. I laughed to myself about that during her memorial service a month or so back when they showed the video of her singing that song as she did so beautifully. She was a trooper.

Moving on to the next number – I do not remember the anthem but know it was a choir number – I noticed this light going back and forth behind the back pew on the main level of the church. I remember wondering to myself what in the world was going on and low and behold about that time, Ms. Inez proceeded to come down the aisle, all by herself, candle in hand (and lighted) and processed to her spot with the Soprano I’s. She blew out the candle and began to sing and the whole choir lost it. Did not phase her. Made her point. And transition adjustments were made before the next concert!

I already have a really good idea on who will be the 2012 recipient.  While all in good fun, the spirit of Ms. Inez and how she (and Evelyn Herm) inspired me as a young choir member lives on in our ministry today. 

You see, these fine ladies knew the Source of Amazing Love we will sing about this year. So do I. Do you?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Still Choosing Joy!