Saturday, December 02, 2017

Little Drummer Boy Fiasco (by Peter A. Black)

This morning I’ve taken to wistful reminiscing . . . yep, again. I guess it’s a sign of my times. Numerous and varied events surrounding the Advent and Christmas season have been part of my life from as far back as I can remember. However, from the not-too-distant past was the annual Inter-Church Advent Service in Watford, Ontario. Let me share a memory of one, with you.
Credit: drumcircle_org Google
Typically the service format included a musical item from each of the participating congregations, such as a rendition by a choir, or a group number or solo, or an instrumental. One year (perhaps 2009) the late Rev. Fred Darke, who taught drumming and developed drumming circles, equipped several of the pastors with drums for a clergy contribution. He coached them well; they sounded good. My job was to play the melody and accompaniment on accordion.
Even if I hadn't included the phrase in the title, above, there's no prize for guessing that our piece was The Little Drummer Boy. We practised in a Sunday school room at the United Church and then headed over to Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church for the service. Our big moment came. Christine, Fred, Tom, Richard and I jostled into position with our instruments. We got off to a nice start, but the drums seem to beat ever faster with each line.
You-know-Who, ca 48 years ago in
Aberdeen Scotland. 
Someone’s speeding this up, I thought. Boom, booma, boom-boom – I could hardly hear what I was playing. Faster and faster, I kept trying to keep up. I think it’s Tom. Yep, Tom. I’m sure he’s rushing this. But why? This is crazy . . . That’s how my thoughts ran on until the final parumpa-pum-pum

It felt like a dizzying race to the finish. Ehm, but why’s everybody looking at me? In truth, the congregation were not only looking, but laughing! And so were we.
If it seemed to most everyone in the sanctuary that the guy playing the accordion was getting carried away, speeding things up, faster and faster, they’d be correct. What was the likely cause?
I quickly reasoned that, surrounded by the four drums in the spacious, lofty sanctuary (compared with the closeness of the classroom where we’d practised), I was reacting to the reverberation of the drum beats. From where I was situated, my ears were bombarded by both the initial drum sounds and the echoes, so that for every beat, it sounded like multiple beats.
So much for hopes of surprising the congregation with our 'wonderful' rendition of that well-loved Christmas song. We’d have been better rehearsing a verse and chorus in the sanctuary before the start of service.

Fact is, at the moment when I needed to fulfil my task well and with clear thinking,
I’d been deceived by the echoes around me.
Life can be like that.
We really do need to be alert to interpret well the cacophony of voices bouncing around us,
invading our personal world.

We can be so wrong at times; and how wrong I was. It certainly induced a laugh, and the unintended joke was on Yours Truly and truly on my account! 😄 
Credit: Google Free
In the rush and crush of preparing for Christmas and Holiday family gatherings and baking and cooking for them, or for community events, and also in preparing for concerts and cantatas and so on, things don’t always go as hoped and planned.
Let us not allow the glitches to steal the joy of the season and it’s central theme, to celebrate the Birth of the Christ Child – the coming into the world of Jesus, our Saviour-Redeemer.
May the Christ of this season be to all of us a source of joy and peace, bringing a fresh experience of God’s love and life into our hearts.

Peter A. Black is a retired pastor – well, sort of retired – and lives in Southwestern Ontario. He writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, P-Pep! and is author of Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart, and Parables from the Pond -- a children's / family book. ~~+~~


Susan Penny Harris said...

I smile because in retrospect we can always find joy in the absurd and embarrassing. So glitches and such are actually an investment into our later years. But I know there is nothing laughable in the moment it is happening. Nice post, Peter. Merry Christmas and keep drumming.

Peter Black said...

Heh! Heh! Drumming ain't my thang, Susan. In the story in my post it was my ministerial colleagues who were the drummers and I was the accordion player who got flummoxed.
This Advent and Christmas season have my wife and me scheduled in a number of musical endeavours - both of us vocally, and with me using variously accordion, piano / keyboard and organ. As a predominantly ear/ instinctual player I find my memory lets me down a bit now at times, but I'm grateful to God for enabling me (indeed, both of us) to continue serving others in His name through music. A Merry and Joyous Christmas to you, also. ~~+~~

Glynis said...

Oh, Peter. This made me laugh out loud. Not at you, of course! But more at the panic of the moment and how you thought you were making things right by speeding things up. I think there is another lesson in there - something about how 'speeding up life' only serves for us to become stressed when, if all we had done was prepare better, then we could hear the drum beat and keep pace. Or something like that. Hahaha. You are so funny in your reflections sometimes and I love your sense of humour. And oh what sweet memories you have. I was the drama leader for years in our church and although it wasn't quite the same, I remember those panic moments - but God always used them to do one of two things: keep us humble and/or teach us a lesson of some sort. Merry Christmas, Sir. Well done.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

An entertaining post, Peter. I enjoyed reading it. Merry Christmas and may this year's participation go well.

Peter Black said...

Thanks Carolyn. And a blessed and merry Christmas to you and your family, too. ~~+~~

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