Submitted by Becky Stewart
This evening our St. Georgian “dynamic duo” blew the socks off of the “organ nerds” who were pleasantly surprised that we planned and carried out a blended church service of psalms (sung and spoken) with NO organ but rather a mix of hymns and instrumentation to include clarinet, flute and guitar (and some slightly-out-of-tune piano). We used a wide range of music from Conditor alme siderum to spirituals to the Israeli Folk song, a canon to Southern Harmony, Taste and See and the Old 100th. The acoustics were beautiful in this old (pre-Civil War) church, the Old Stone Presbyterian church, in downtown Winchester that has NO electricity (hence, no air conditioning and so a quick service). Afterwards, even Dr. Cooksey, the elder and colorful leader of the church music institute (an organist as well) provided rave comments and not his usual harsh critiques that he has given to the other students who must each prepare one morning and one evening service during this week. The renowned Dr. Westermeyer, an expert in hymnology at Luther Seminary, tickled at my version of “Give Me Jesus” that I played with gusto and spirited gospel-style just to get us out of the heat in time. He said the sisters, “child”, in our group commented it actually goes about 1/2 my speed in their church down south and that the music slows down even more on the verse “an’ when I’ya come to die ………. I was just trying to get outta the heat before I died! 🙂
And nothing against organists (Lisa and I love organists), but ever since we arrived here, we have been strongly outnumbered by diehard organists who live and breath all that “swelling” and “great” talk. So our class was appreciative of the change in pace and intrigued by our use of the voic e and other non-traditional instruments to lead the service. Hey … to us just a typical day at St. G’s.
So as our service progressed from themes of anguish (Psalm 22) to hope (Psalms 5 and 51) to comfort (Psalms 119 and 23) to love (Psalms 100 and 24) and then praise of God (Psalms 149 and 34), Lisa and I promptly praised God with a trip to the Cork Street Tavern immediately after service to celebrate having completed our assignment where an old retired Army airborne fellow who was deaf in one ear overheard us talking about “TDY” and Lisa being in the Air Force and so he struck up a nice little conversation with Lisa. In her inimitable style, Lisa promptly shot back at him as he coyly said to her “I never understood why you air force people always went around pushing us outta planes?” She replied without a beat “I never understood why you guys jumped out of perfectly good airplanes!!” Her comment got lots of giggles in the room ….
Only one more service to plan and conduct on Thursday morning … and then we might have to go find that airplane to fly away for vacation after all this work!
Becky and Lisa