This article was published in the July issue of our parish magazine. You can read it again here:
For many, lockdown has been an incredibly difficult time of worry, isolation, ill-health, boredom and captivity. It has been tough, and will continue to be so for many months to come.
For others it has offered opportunities and blessings. I am fortunate to be in this group. I have had the blessing of my immediate family – tempered with a home and garden large enough to facilitate solitude when needed!
I have had the blessing of being in the “virtual service” team. This has given me the privilege of visiting the vicarage garden every few weeks to record Rev Deborah celebrating Holy Communion. This began way back before Passion Sunday, included most of the Holy Week services, and many of the weekly services since. It has been a true blessing to be one of the two gathered in His name. I was rarely closer than 3 or 4 metres, but was there, present with Deborah and with God. We often recorded two or three services back to back, which was exhausting; but every service was different. We rarely stopped for a retake, in fact I can only think of three occasions – two were due to battery failure, and one because the Host blew away! The hazards of outdoor worship, or the Holy Spirit reminding us that we are never in control? – despite our efforts to convince ourselves to the contrary.
We were mainly blessed with superb weather, although I have learned just how loud the wind can sound on recorded video! The rain has been an infrequent companion to these videoing sessions, but once we had no option – I sheltered outside and filmed through the window as Rev Deborah presided over the Eucharist in her dining room.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to reacquaint myself with Audacity (audio editing software) and to acquire and learn how to use Premiere Pro (video editing software). Neither iMovie nor MovieMaker have the functionality needed to do what I wanted for the parish.
The entire parish is blessed to have the services of Tom, with whom I have been blessed to work even more closely during lockdown. I have sent him many requests for piano and organ accompaniments, which he has recorded and sent back to me to add the vocal parts. I know this has been a frustrating process for him. Imagine playing through to the end of a 7-verse hymn only to have an ambulance race past, sirens blaring, and have to begin again. Or to continue playing whilst wildly gesticulating through the window to visitors not to ring the bell!
I have been blessed with the opportunity to learn more about copyright law, in particular with regard to live streaming, podcasting, and recording music for playback later. It is this, along with liturgical season, that governs our hymn choices these days. To this end, the parish is blessed with a steadily growing library of recorded hymns – backing tracks, melody voice and harmony voice recordings – for use as needed. You can listen again to some of them here: https://stmargaretsprestwich.com/2020/06/29/lockdown-hymns/
A long time ago during choir practice at St Margaret’s, Sally Ogden said that we were simply offering back to God the gifts He had given us. This is what I have striven to do during lockdown.
More recently, Barack Obama said that “the best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something”. Wise words indeed, and a blessing to hear them.