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My Father's Voice

Last night was the Easter Vigil, complete with the first visit of our new Bishop Coadjutor.  For those not be familiar with such terminology or title within the Episcopal Church, the Bishop Coadjutor becomes THE Diocesan Bishop (in this instance, of Virginia) when the current bishop decides to retire.  For our Church, succession planning calls for the retirement of the outgoing bishop no later than three years from the date of consecration of the coadjutor.  Anyway, because our rector is a gracious man who likes to have a bishop at Grace for the Vigil, he asked early, and we got Bishop Johnston.  He's a wonderful man, will be a great Bishop, and I must say, this bishop nearly comes up out of his shoes when he preaches!  And he has an amazing singing voice!

I was the cantor again for the Vigil, chanting the Exsultet after the lighting of the new fire and the Paschal candle.   A couple of interesting things happened this year.  First in the sacristy before the service, I met the Bishop again.  (We had met when he first visited to Grace to meet Bob+).  Of course, my priest had to mention I was in the Discernment process; the Bishop said he recalled my name from other diocesan office contacts, and remembered me from our earlier meeting.  When it was noted I was the cantor for the Exsultet, the Bishop said he'd enjoyed very much chanting at the Vigil, and that it is one loss he felt after being consecrated a Bishop.  (The rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer call for a deacon or, if a deacon is not available, a layperson is to chant the Exsultet.)  Bob+ said to the Bishop "once a Deacon, always a Deacon" and I offered to stand down if he'd like to step up.  He declined.    

So when it came time to move up into chancel area to sing, I again found myself standing in a cloud of smoke (incense) while the Paschal Candle was censed.  I placed the music stand, adjusted the height I needed, turned on the lights, and then took a big breath.  Now I should note the Exsultet allows the singer to select a tone conducive to it being sung.  I had practiced a lot, but I don't believe I ever started as low as I did this night.  The pitch was fine, just lower than I had practiced.  About three lines into singing, I discovered a voice I had not heard in some time.  It was not mine.  It was someone else.  Afterward during the Agape feast upstairs, I told some folks the voice I heard "was my Father's voice".  When someone asked, "You mean the Father's voice?", I quickly claried, "No! No, no, no.  It was my Dad's voice".  I knew I was singing, but I heard my father's voice.  I could have lost track of where I was, of what I was doing, being a bit distracted by what I was hearing.  But a small case of flop sweat sharpened my resolve, and pushed me through this singing reflection of my Dad.

It felt both weird and wonderful at the same time.  After I finished, I had wondered if I'd missed a page and not sang everything.  However, by most accounts, if not all, I sang it well (some even suggested it was better than last year).  I certainly was honored to be allowed again to sing it.  I was surprised, but comforted, to hear my father's voice.  Thank  you, God, for that small gift in the midst of celebrating the greatest gift ever given, and the most amazing sacrifice ever made.  

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  The Lord is risen indeed!  Alleluia!


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Mar. 27th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
Easter Vigil
I knew that you were the cantor and I guessed about what time you would be singing so I was in prayer for you. I was not singing but I was deep in prayer so that I could be with you in spirit. I guess our Father let me be with you at that moment. God's peace and blessings - Dad
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )