Thursday, April 07, 2005

47. The choir

I was in the synagogue choir for four years of High Holy Days. For most of my life I hadn't even known you could put those two words together without committing an act of dangerous and unpardonable syncretism. Aside from a few performances of "Chichester Psalms," I had never sung in Hebrew before and was worried, at first, that I wouldn't be able to keep up. I soon learned that very few people in the choir knew Hebrew, or even how to read music. This group would probably not end up at Carnegie Hall, unlike my other chorus. We were sometimes not very good. But we did know how to pray, which made up for many wrong notes and missed entrances. Our harmonies, like a scuffed brass handrail on a steep flight of stairs, were solid and even shone occasionally, and helped everyone get to the next level.

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