Lessons and Carols

It’s time again for my Lessons and Carols post. As you may or may not recall, for the past 3 years, I have participated in the choir for our university convocation’s Lessons and Carols service. The choir is composed of volunteer staff and students at Willamette, and we get about 4 hours of practice to learn 5 or 6 songs for the performance. This year we did “What Child Is This,” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” and “Sing Gloria,” plus the usual battery of traditional Christmas hymns associated with Lessons and Carols.

The twist, at least for me, occurred at practice on Tuesday afternoon, when the choir director looked at me, and said, “Julie, why don’t you do the solo for ‘Once in Royal David’s City’?”

I hemmed and squirmed, and belatedly tried to make myself look small and inconspicuous, as if doing so would make her forget she had asked at all. When that was unsuccessful, I managed to squeak out, “I don’t know, I’ve never done a solo before.” That was taken as consent, and I suddenly found myself responsible for doing not just a solo, but an a capella solo of the very first verse of the first song in the entire program, complete with high D’s in the last two lines.

Since Tuesday, I’ve been nervously humming “Once In Royal David’s City” anytime I don’t think anyone else will notice, trying to find my pitch and hit those high notes cleanly. The service itself was today, and I think I did alright. I was wearing a new dark green corduroy blazer and plaid skirt, so I felt appropriately Christmas-dressy, and I am told that I could be heard on the other side of the chapel, which is a good sign. I got in a little warm-up time before the program, too, so I was able to hit those D’s and not sound like a squeaky clarinet in need of a fresh reed. After the solo trauma, the rest of the music just flew, and by the last hymn, I was singing so exuberantly that I strained my voice a little.

Considering my Lessons and Carols posts of the past two years, I should mention that I will yet again be going home and doing some Christmas party baking this evening, though I also baked a batch of peanut butter cookies last night. I used a Moosewood recipe that claimed to make big and chewy cookies, but though I ended up with the right number of very tasty cookies based on the recipe, they were definitely not big, and more crunchy than chewy. I’m tempted to try making ice cream sandwiches with some of them, since I think Jeremy was a little disappointed.

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