The choir director was away and the pianist was giving minimal direction, nothing more was needed, we thought.
The first hymn was “Oh Come O Come Emmanuel”. The women were certain that we were to sing verses four and five. The men were focused on verses three and four.
As the initial chorus ended and we headed into the verse, the choir, to its credit, immediately noticed that something sounded unrehearsed. Quite musically, everyone lowered their voices while staying true to what was thought to be the correct verse.
Having muddled through this first share of two simultaneous verses, finishing up the second go round of the chorus, the pianist looked over at us, glowered, held up fingers to signal the proper approaching verse. The choir apparently disagreed with which fingers were displayed.
For a second time, we launched into the magic of live music continuing bravely forward, regardless of the odd merger of vowels, consonants, the very recognition of text swirling around, here and there a mumbled word recognized like a flash of muted lightning, the choir certain in their own faithful direction. It would be difficult to recreate the Babel of sounds hushly produced. The congregation looked on, amazed, some shaking their heads, as if witness to a musical miracle.