Thursday, March 4, 2010

#126-Singing Special AKA

(Special thanks to a favorite Canadian who recommended this post and much of it's content to me. )

First off, let me say that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the singing special part of church. To me, it is the most real aspect of the church service. It reminds us of our humanity. There comes time in many a church service where we are floating on heaven. We forget that Obama is president, we forget about the dying children in Africa, and we forget about the earthquakes messing the world up (save a prayer request). We are in our element in church, free to be ourselves without the cares and criticisms of the world. We can pray and shout and dance our lives away and know that we have the truth. Church, in these instances is heaven on earth. That is....

Until the church solo comes crashing into our lives.....and the awkwardness that entails, and how on occasion it allows those who normally go unnoticed in church get their chance to shine....I will forever be a fan of the church solo in church. 

And for those of you who have not been here from the start (most), let us not confuse the church solo with the tradition that we all think we deserve a solo

But there are some many facets to the singing special that I don't know where to begin. As a part-time sound man, I love how most of the tracks people sing along to come on cassette. The cassette has been dead since Clinton's inauguration, but yet here as Apostolics, we hold on dearly to these remnants of the past, as if, if the cassette forfeits it's rights in church to the CD, so too will kids be allowed to bring Harry Potter books into church soon after.

The singing special usually comes around the lull of the service, at some fixed point surrounding offering and before the sermon. When it happens, pure magic is set to ensure. The singer(s) walked up to the microphone clearly in a state of anxious disrepair. Maybe their is a cough in their throat to break the silent tension (the tension worsened because this is vacation time in the service for most of the congregation where they can sit without not worried if they will be scrutinized for not standing up to worship during this time). 

The singer has two options: 

  • A miniature sermon which most likely includes a testimony (As my brother-in-law wants to always know, "why does the singer feel so obligated to preach? The preacher doesn't feel obligated to sing."). This mini-sermon though most likely has nothing to do with the song which makes the disconnect and awkwardness that much better.
  • or to just stare blankly at the audience for a few seconds and awkwardly and politely ask the crowd to "worship with me as I sing" (or of course the rare jewel of "worship me as I sing"). I personally prefer the second option here because the awkwardness going into the song is usually greater when there is no mini-sermon to ease the crowd into their seats
Now the climax of the whole ordeal comes before the first note even hits. It's the "head-nod" to the sound-man. It is the next few moments where the silence will be most heightened and the awkwardness blaring at it's loudness. The soundman sometimes purposefully, sometimes incidentally usually fumbles around with a few switches to get the soundtrack live. BONUS POINTS IF THE SOUND BOARD IS NOT WORKING PROBABLY LEAVING THE SINGER IN A NIGHTMARE SITUATION!

Once the music comes through the speakers, the track is usually some warbly mess. 

From here the tension has still not resided as the singer is usually off-key for the first verse or so at least (ULTIMATE WIN if lyrics are forgotten)

Now here's what I am proposing....Let us live our live like it were one giant singing special....

When we go up to strangers, let's have a microphone in hand. Stare into the depths of the eyes and cough in your throat. While the confusion is on the increase, tell the stranger/friend, "Worship with me as I sing." and then of course from there give a head-nod to a soundman who is not actually there....and then sing acapella to your favorite worship song. It seems like there is much potential here. Can you imagine doing this when you go to order at McDonald's?

I do not have any of those horror stories to recount about singing specials going horribly bad. If you, dear reader, do have any such stories, please recount them in the comment section. 


  1. While I love this post I have to disagree with you on one point. Some preachers *mainly evangelists* sometimes feel the need to randomly sing a song before they start preaching. It's not that they were asked to, but for some reason they have to bust out with "If you only knew, what I've been through, you would understand the reason why I sing" or something else really old. The also have to ask the pianist (who is stumbling because this song is before her time) to go into a certain key "put it in the key of C" because they can only sing in that key.

  2. It's never, ever in the key of C. It's always B flat minor. Or F sharp. Ridiculous keys that NO ONE sings in. My mother, the church pianist, said she was never happier than when she got an electric piano with a transpose button.

  3. I personally like it when the special singer says a few words of testimony before the song.
    But I like testimonies....

    Once we had a child run up onto the platform and request a song to the special singer as she approached the pulpit. She gently directed him back to his seat.

    After her song, the pastor had the church sing the song the child requested. No THAT was special!

  4. Oh God! Having grown up in the apostolic movement, how I remember the days of "specials." But I'm so old that I remember the Pastor approaching a dear sister/brother two minutes before church was supposed to start, asking if she/he "could be ready to sing." Out came the accordian or guitar...

    Man, when I read your post I laughed until tears came.

  5. I think it was last Mother's Day when I received a call from our music director. "Can you please sing such and such song, I have the sound track here at the church." It was a song I did in the early 90s so of course it was on cassette. Did I mention the call came on the Thursday or Friday before Mother's Day? The sound man turned on the cassette but left the mute button on. I'm looking with pleading eyes while he is shrugging his shoulders. I'm getting embarrassed right now just thinking about it!!

  6. Too funny! I can relate with the evangelists coming in and wanting to sing a song in an off-the-wall key. It's a piano players worse nightmare - especially a rookie pianist like I was when it happened to me... hah!!

  7. This post is so much more enjoyable if you are privy to the "rare jewel" mentioned. Kudos, Joel.