So in the Catholic Church, we celebrate mass. It’s done in place of what other denominations call service. It’s so much more than a service though. It is a feast, a communion, a celebration of the last supper, consecration of bread and wine…and so much more. But I’m not here to talk about the Catholic faith.
Anyways, the sequence of mass goes; the introductory rites, then one or two readings then a psalm before the gospel reading then the homily, Eucharistic celebration and conclusion. The responsorial psalm is a short song which can be a whole psalm or part of psalms. Usually someone recites or sings it while the congregation replies a refrain.
So this week, I was ‘chosen’ –but really, actually forced– to be the one to sing the psalm for Wednesday mass, a big deal for the Catholics in my school.
After a week’s practice, I was ready to take on the stage. Here is what I sang.
‘BLESSED THE MAN, WHO IS GRACIOUS, AND LENDS TO THOSE IN NEED’
So, yeah, it sucked.
What happened? Let’s see?
St. Luke and Divine Physician Chaplaincy.
August 10, 2016
The moment for the psalm had come too quickly. I wasn’t ready. My mind screamed as the whole congregation stood. There was murmur through the crowd, as though they were waiting for something. I realized too late that it was me.
I scrambled about for a microphone. I should have done that earlier. With no Mike in sight, I rushed to the standing Mike in front of the choristers which was too tall for me. On tip toes, I managed to squeeze the words past the lump in my throat.
Few seconds into the song, after I had already missed several words, a Mike was handed to me. I took it with trembling hands. It weighed more than I thought it would.
I repeated the response, making sure to say the correct words this time.
Heart pounding and blood rushing in my ears, I dived into the psalm in full. I heard myself and I heard the keyboard. There was no coordination. It was slow and I was fast. Then I slowed down and it sped up. But I couldn’t stop. I kept going. My voice cracked at some high points but still, I didn’t stop. I couldn’t.
And then it was over. Thank God. I dropped the Mike like it had bit me and returned to my place in the crowd, head down with the horrible performance resounding in my brain. I couldn’t look up lest I encounter a pitying gaze directed at me.
After the psalm, there was the gospel reading and then the Homily where the presiding Father comes to deliver his message. You won’t believe what happened then? He congratulated me. In his words ‘ I have so much admiration for the psalmist this evening.’
He had the whole congregation clapping and cheering from me. It was incredible. I was actually blushing.
See, when I prayed before, I asked not to be disgraced and embarrassed. And I wasn’t. Not even a little. I was cheered and praise. For what, I still don’t know. Isn’t God amazing?
So you see, this isn’t a success story where I did great. I flopped- and let’s face it, the clapping and cheering was just so I wouldn’t feel too bad, which probably means that I did worse than I think I did. But I learnt that there is something different about failing among your family, among people that love you. It doesn’t seem like such a big fall. It seemed to me, more like a learning experience for something bigger and better.
The members of my church, part of the Nigerian Federation of Catholic Students, NFCS, are like family. And the fact that they cheered me despite my horrid performance really made me love them more.
And of course, I can decide that I’m never going to sing another word again. But that would be a waste of this experience. Maybe not right now, but someday, I’ll be ready to take the psalm again.
Although, maybe I’ll sing without the keyboard.