Good evening. It’s no easy task to follow a moving Christmas Eve homily from Reverend Gwen, especially one so amusingly titled “Nobody Puts Baby Jesus in a Corner” but I’ll still invite you to brace yourselves in your pews and hold onto any loose church bulletins as our choir is about to belt the hell out of “The Little Drummer Boy.”
For those in the congregation who don’t recognize the graying faces and brown polyester robes filing onto the chancel via the accessibility ramp, we’re the Devotional Chorus from the 11:00 AM “traditional” Sunday service. Sure, we don’t have the excitement of the 8:30 AM service’s Praise Beat Band, with its electric guitars, electric basses, and electric pianos. But we’re about to bring our own electricity to this classic carol which, you might be surprised to learn, was only written in 1941, thus making it one of the more modern tunes in our repertoire.
So don’t you dare be soothed into chorale complacency by our initial thin delivery and ambiguous harmonies of the first wheezed strains of “Come they told me.”
As the sopranos kick into their high descant on “I am a poor boy too,” you’ll be transcended into an aural landscape only occupied by dog whistles and tinnitus.
Once the “ox and lamb” start keeping time, you’ll be treated to a full spectrum of musical color, as some of the more mischievous men in our tenor section have been issued tambourines.
It’s not often we get to do mouth sounds like some kind of Rockapella group, so when we do, we do so with gusto!
You’ll hear goosebump-inducing trills on our “rums,” a combination of indulgently rolled R’s and the clatter of loose denture uppers. Your every bone will reverberate from the gentlemen in our bass section (as well as some of the more huskily-toned ladies) all letting their jowls flap furiously with every percussive “pum pum pum.”
The warble of septuagenarian voices will thrill! The constant hiss of sibilance will astound! The sheer intensity will whelm! The spittle will fly!
Our organist, Dean, has recently taken a Swiffer duster to the valves and bellows that blast out our pipe organ’s lowest notes, so by the crescendo into “I played my best for him” in the third verse, his loafers on the pedal keys will feel like the footsteps of God themself thumping ever nearer with every low-octave, bowel-trembling chord.
And rat-a-tat-ing through it all from start to finish is my nephew, Jaxon, who’s learning to play snare drum in his middle school’s Symphonic Band and whose lack of rhythm is more than compensated for by his heavy-handedness. Every thwack of his drumsticks will pop like an artillery shell, thanks to his liberal use of the drumhead tensioning key and the fact that we’ve, for some reason, mic-ed him up.
Finally, by the heart-stopping diminuendo of “Then he smiled at me,” our trio of feisty handbell ringers will serve as a carillon signaling crew to bring you in for a soft landing on this sanctuary’s tarmac. But just like on an airplane, please remain in your seat until the breathless drone of our final “rum pum pum pum pums” has come to a complete stop.
I think you can tell from the laserlike focus of our singers’ cloudy eyes and tension coiled up in their arthritically clasped hands, we’re ready to rock.
Choir, here’s your note: Hummmmm…