April 24, 2006

Setting the Pace

Yesterday I led the congregation in singing "He Lives." A great old song. I stood at the microphone and played my guitar. The pianist accompanied me. One of the teenagers had the maracas. And the congregation, normally not the most musically inclined bunch of people, sang with gusto.

Perhaps because it was a song that many know and love, we sang it at breakneck speed. The song's timing is 6/8, and we sang it at about 400 eighth-notes per second. The pianist's fingers set the pace, and the rest of us followed. I had difficulty getting all the words out---we were singing that fast.

Standing at the microphone, I tried to slow us down, but the piano kept playing, the maracas kept shaking, and the people, with looks of exasperation on their faces, did their best to keep singing. By the third verse, a few had to hold on to the pew in front of them for support. Thankfully, there wasn't a fourth, or we'd have had people fainting from exhaustion.

For the benefit of everyone, I tried to change the pace. I at least wanted us to be able to breathe. But once the pace is set, it's nearly impossible to change.

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