Didja ever have one of those things happen at church when you KNOW you're not supposed to laugh, but you almost kill yourself trying not to bust a gut? We had something like that happen the other week on Sunday. I know God attends every worship service, but this time I think it was under duress! Towards the beginning of a Roman Catholic Mass, often times the Gloria is sung. Well...we've been singing the same Gloria now for a few years. Our cantor started off just fine. As did the organist. Everything was "jake" -- for exactly two bars. Then apparently some unforseen force lifted the music from the organist's perch and flipped it upsidedown. NO KIDDING.
All of a sudden the music was 1/3 of an octave lower...and not only that, the melody was now a completely different tune...and the organist's fingers were stumbling. I was sitting at the side of the sanctuary, and looked up to see if someone had conked him over the head and taken his place. By about bar 5, everyone, except the poor cantor, had stopped singing...as we didn't know if it was fish or fowl. Or just foul. This went on for another few bars...the organist apparently oblivious to the fact that he is playing some otherworldly never before heard tune. Rather loudly...so loudly the 1st soprano cantor just was having a devil of a time, keeping in tune herself. At this point the congregation was all smiles poking each other. The priest had that "I sit down for a few minutes myself, and look what happens" expression. I suddenly decide that it's really not fair to let the cantor twist in the wind all by her lonesome, and decide to lend my contralto voice...maybe if I sing loudly, she can also get the tune back... Ha-ha.... IT did help, because then everyone else felt sorry for us too and started joining in.... There was a point or two where the organist finally "righted" himself...but then he'd go off track again.
Finally, after about what seemed like 10 minutes (normally it takes about 2 ...and I'm sure it did this time, but it was surreal) we finished. The cantor stepped back in her place at the other side of the sanctuary, and we both simultaneously, almost imperceptibly shrugged our shoulders just a wee half inch. After Mass. We BOTH wondered what in heckers had gotten in to the organist...but decided it was probably best not to "go there."
The whole time I could hear the Almightly, rolling on a cloud, laughing His...oh, never mind.
(posted on my Telegraph, July 19, 2007)