All of my life, I've enjoyed singing. I was always in the choirs/choruses from 5th grade on. Even in college, I sang for a bit--both in the college's women's choir, and for the liturgical choir. (I didn't last very long in either college vocal group--too much going on with my coursework!) I sing in the car, in the shower, while doing chores. I make up silly songs about what I'm doing, etc. (Regarding my previous post, I might be lazy, and my children might inherit that, but at least they'll be highly entertained by my made up songs!)
Anyway, one of the things I like about attending a Byzantine church is that the liturgy is entirely sung, and everyone is encouraged to participate.
I never considered myself a great singer. Sure, I'm good, I guess. I'm very humble about my voice. Part of it comes from growing up in a town and attending a high school that's very well-known for its choral singers. If you were great, you knew it. Everyone did. I never considered myself that great, because I never got any solos, never made it into the musicals, never made it into the show choirs. I can't really sight-sing, but I do know my notes. Dabbling in clarinet, violin, and piano will do that.
(However, I did shock everyone by performing a song, all by myself, at the senior showcase concert.)
Back to the present. Turtle has been complementing me on my voice more and more lately while we're at Liturgy...or, maybe more like afterward. Since we sit near the front, by ourselves, I don't fear anyone hearing me and thinking I sound horrible. I kept telling him, "sure...I'm not that great, really..."
One of our priests, Father T., has talked with Turtle about becoming more involved with Liturgy. I'm not going to say too much right now about that...I will discuss it more when the time is right. When Father T. had asked Turtle this question, he also asked me a question. The conversation went something like this:
Fr. T: Do you sing?
Me: Uhhh, well...
Fr. T: I see you singing during Liturgy, you should go upstairs with the choir. (The "blessing" of sitting so close to the iconostasis, the priests notice things!)
Me: Oh I don't know, we'll see. (getting redder and redder by the minute....)
Turtle: She really should, I keep telling her.
Fr. T: Well, nothing has to be decided now.
Me: Okay, sounds good!
Fast forward to Sunday. Our parish had a St. Nicholas brunch after Liturgy in our hall (which is in the basement--sounds funny to say "hall," but go downstairs). When it was time for us to go, we made our way over to Father T to say goodbye. He was talking with another couple who we see all of the time--the wife sings in the choir, and the husband...I guess he'd be called an usher? He sits in the back and keeps an eye on things, does the collections, holds the Gospel for Father, etc.
The five of us were chatting...and I felt terrible because we'd been attending Liturgy here for over a year, and we didn't know their names! Before I could ask them, the husband said to me "I just have to tell you, I hear you singing when I am passing the basket, and you have a beautiful voice." The wife said something similar later, and she reminded me that I had sat behind her during a holy day when the choir sang in the sanctuary instead of the choir loft. They both encouraged me to join the choir. (And we formally introduced ourselves, he is N, she is M)
My face was pretty red, and I was doing the "no, no...I'm not THAT good" thing that everyone does when they are humble about something.
Then Father T. "outed" Turtle by saying that when he does his "thing," maybe I would go up there so I wouldn't be alone during Liturgy. That took the pressure off of me for a bit!
I'll be honest: I have been thinking more and more about joining the choir--even before N & M complimented me. Maybe I am a great singer. Maybe my voice was destined for a higher purpose than show choirs and school solos. I'm trying to write this with humility...I'm not walking around, thinking about trying for a record contract. I'm still shy, I'd still be nervous to get up in that choir loft as a "newbie" and I would NOT be auditioning to sing/chant the Epistle any time soon!
That's what I meant about right church, wrong pew--maybe I was just singing in the wrong place all of those years? Maybe I do have a great voice...and it was just falling on deaf ears?