Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Were You There, or My Junior Choir Trauma

I'm not sure if I have shared this story on this blog before. And rather than search through the archived posts, I will just go ahead and share it again. That's my way, really. My friends tell me I'm a story repeater. Oh, well.

It was a number of years ago, about this time of year. I'm reminded of this story because I planning an upcoming service and one of the songs we are singing is "Were You There." It's an old familiar hymn. Most regular church goers have probably heard it more than a few times. Anyway, I was in grade school and I belonged to the junior choir. I loved to sing, although I was not the most confident in my abilities. I joined the junior choir because most of the kids in my grade that went to our church were in it, and it gave me the opportunity to sing.

For one church service, our director decided we were going to sing "Were You There," and she wanted soloists to sing a few of the verses. I'm not sure if she asked for volunteers and I raised my hand or if she asked me explicitly, but somehow I ended up with the third verse.

When we performed the song during the service, each soloist was to leave their place in the group and stand out front for their solo. When it came time for me, that meant I had to walk out from behind the entire group (I always have been one of the tallest...). So I made my way through the group and stood in front and began to sing.

"Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oooh-ooooh-ooooh-oooh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified m-"

And that's when I realized I was ending the third verse with a line from the first verse. I had messed up, made a huge mistake, in front of everyone! I should have calmly finished the verse, walked back to my spot and pretended like nothing had happened. But that is not what I did. Instead, I stopped singing. Then, I burst into tears and pushed my way to the back of the group.

Everyone was exceedingly gracious. They complimented my singing, and many people shared stories of how they had messed up while performing in front of a crowd. It made me feel much better about my mistake.

But to this day I cannot hear this song without flashing back to that day. I can see the church, the choir director standing in front of me, the peoples' faces in the pews. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized I had made the mistake, and the wave of embarrassment. All of these things add up to mean that this song is not my favorite. I don't think it's bad, but it's just not for me.

I also thank God that we are saved by grace and not on account of our ability to sing songs correctly.

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