Well I’ve made it! My first real life experience planning and playing in holy week services. This post is largely non-theological and very much practical. Though I’ve participated in holy week services almost every year of my adult life, I have never had to be the person in charge. I had a great time with it, am totally exhausted, and will need at least 11 months before I’ll want to do it again. Good thing is I hear it’s going to happen again in about 12 months.
At TCC we had a total of seven services throughout the week:
Palm Sunday (2) – We sang “All Glory, Laud and Honor” with kid’s choir, adult choir, organ, trumpet, and palm fronds galore!
Maundy Thursday – A communion service with choir and organ reflecting on the last supper and Jesus instituting a new commandment – love one another.
Good Friday – A tenebrae service of shadows where we read through the passion narrative of Luke interpolated with passion hymns like “O Sacred Head”, “How Marvelous” and “Stricken Smitten and Afflicted”. I brought in my friend Josh who is a fantastic cellist to play excerpts from the Bach cello suites. The service ended with the congregation coming to the front of the sanctuary to literally nail their sins (written on prepared slips of paper) to the cross. I plan on keeping these to use next year, when we will burn them into ash for our Ash Wednesday service.
Holy Saturday – Our newest worship service (dubbed “saturday night life”) which had little to do with a traditional holy saturday or easter vigil service, but was easter themed.
Easter Sunday (2) – He has risen! We brought back the kids choir, adult choir, organ, and waving streamers and crosses singing ‘lift high the cross’ with our resident brass ensemble.
Well needless to say, I went home on Sunday afternoon after the last Easter service and slept for a few hours. Never. Slept. So. Well. I loved planning the services and leading the music, but have learned a few things in hindsight:
1) You can never prepare too much. As much as I thought I had everything together, something always fell through the cracks. I was making photocopies for the choir and adding another song to the overhead screens on Easter morning at 7:57 am.
2) I don’t have to do it all. I had many wonderful helpers who directed and managed the children’s choir, and staff support for bulletins and projections. That being said, this year I tried to plan and execute all of the services myself. Next year I hope to have someone help manage the choir (including photocopies and tracking attendance). Next year I hope to have someone else plan and lead one of the services. Next year I hope to have someone else create the bulletin and projections. It’s not that I didn’t have the help, it’s that I didn’t know how to properly delegate.
3) Trumpet players are a hot commodity on Easter. Though I had thought I had booked a quintet back in January, some last minute changes left me with a quartet – forcing the french horn to play the trumpet part and the tuba to play the trombone part. Not the end of the world, but it could be avoided.
4) Some people come to church only on Christmas and Easter.
5) At the end of the day, it’s about worshipping GOD. I need to constantly remind myself that in my preparation I am bringing God glory. Though on Sunday at 9:30am I don’t always feel like I am having a “worshipful experience”, my preparation and professionalism does bring God glory by allowing other people to enter into worship. To some extent, I cannot get ‘lost in the moment’ as a worship leader, because I always need to be thinking ahead. I’m learning to be okay with that. (That being said, the kid’s choir never ceases to get me choked up…that’s why someone else conducts them.)
What happened at your church? Any fellow church musicians out there that have holy week reflections to share?