Among the articles and tributes that have begun to pop up now that Garrison Keillor has announced his retirement from A Prairie Home Companion, I happened to come across this: an excerpt from an essay in which he writes about Episcopalians and singing.
We make fun of Episcopalians for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like them.
If you were to ask an audience in Des Moines, a relatively Episcopalian-less place, to sing along on the chorus of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Episcopalians, they’d smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach… and down the road!
Many Episcopalians are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony, a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person’s rib cage. It’s natural for Episcopalians to sing in harmony. We are too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison.
When you’re singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it’s an emotionally fulfilling moment. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.
I'm going to miss good old GK.
And I don't think he'd mind at all if I reminded whoever might be reading this that you are invited to Summer Choir, this Sunday (July 12) at 8 a.m. in the choir room.