And a-one-a, and a-two-a. Come on-a, folks. It's-a not-a that-a hard-a.

Let’s tune back into the church choir that is musically-challenged…

Not being an expert on religious hymns, I was surprised to learn that a lot of the singing is done by memory. Hymnals were props for the most devout. They knew the words and music by heart, regardless of what was written. But sheet music threw them for a loop.

When the soprano asked me what a beat was, I looked at the director in desperation. He was busy rubbing his head.

Choir Director was a man, but you get the idea...

“Perhaps we should all listen to the melody once again,” he chimed in.  He played it through. An alto mumbled, “It sounds exactly like what we just sang, only faster. I don’t what the problem is.” She also complained she was having trouble with her hearing aid.

Rehearsal ended for the morning.  The church service was about to begin and we had to don on our opulent robes that oozed musical talent.

With the robes on, do you really care if they can't carry a tune in a bucket?

For several weeks we practiced. The small improvements we made in our command of the anthem one week had vanished by the following week. The judge would have surely sent Mickey, Patsy, and their crew of Broadway-wannabees to proper school for some serious indoctrination in the 3-R’s, especially spelling (reading, riting and rithmatic?). We, however, didn’t have a judge; we had Choir Director.

As in all 1940’s Hollywood musicals, a least one major disaster befalls the hard-working, well-intended group of stars waiting to be born.  And so it was with our choir.  Choir Director announced that he was quitting our losing cause had to focus more attention on his family and regretted he could no longer serve as our director. He gave his two-week’s notice. We had no one to replace him.

Oh no! We were stuck.

Flashback to Mickey and his production …

“Gosh, it can’t be true!” Patsy was aghast.

A Bit Player worried a bit too loudly, “Gee wiz, what are we gonna do now?”

“Gosh, we’ll have to cancel the show. … And after all this work,” another Bit Player kicked the ground, sniffled, and wiped her nose on the back of her hand.

“Mickey, what are we going to do?” Patsy tried to focus the group.

“Don’t worry, Gang, we can do this.  Remember, we’ve got heart!  Even if I have to direct the show and star in it, we’ll pull this off.  Shucks, we’ve got to!  Are you with me?  Are ya, huh?  Are ya?”  Mickey was short, but he was a giant in the optimism (or delusional) department.

“Sure, we’re with you. We can’t let everyone down. Especially now that we’re so close. And we have our costumes and all.”  Patsy would support the little irrepressible guy come rain or come shine.

Lucky for our little church choir that we had a taller version of Mickey and his very own Patsy…

Mickey: "I got plans. Big Broadway plans." Patsy: "Are you sure? I keeping thinking there's no place like home..."

At Chuck’s behest, the members of the Music Ministry convened. “Is anyone available to play the piano or organ?” he began.  The general consensus was either “no,” “not sure,” or the ever-popular down-cast-eyed silence.

“O.K., we’ll do some calling around.  In the meantime, I play piano and I’m willing to direct the choir until we find someone.” Chuck’s offer was genuine, but phrased hesitantly, as if burdensome. He was willing to make this sacrifice for the good of the church and the choir. The twinkle in Chuck’s eye when he told me about his new position as Choir Director Pro Tem, however, reminded me of Mickey’s starry-eyed looks when he dreamed of Broadway. Chuck had plans for his this choir and he had his Patsy me to help him.

In the two weeks we had left with Dearly Departing Choir Director, we practiced the dickens out of A Simple Praise. Chuck held rehearsals for two hours on Thursday evenings when Dearly Departing Choir Director couldn’t attend. Our plan, like a Babe in Arms finale, was to surprise him with the anthem-to-end-all-anthems as our parting gift to him. It was a plan right out of Mickey’s play-book.

On his final Sunday with us, we performed the song.  Greatness was ours for the taking. We looked spiffy in our robes, had hours of rehearsals under our belts, and Chuck gave us an uplifting pep talk. This was our proof-to-the-judge moment that we were show-biz material inspiring spiritual musical talent.

The congregation of +/- 20 waited for an anthem they didn’t recognize. We decided bowing at a standing ovation would be too showy, so we’d just smile humbly.

Neither was necessary.

Not too long after the train left the station, it was clear to me we were in trouble. Not all passengers were on board. The Simple Praise train may not have wrecked, but it derailed in a few key (or off key) places.

My bowed head was that of a deflated soprano. I glanced into the congregation and saw pasted on half-smiles–the kind you have when you’ve just met a real jerk but have to remain polite because the jerk is related to your boss. The minister’s color was off.

After you sing, you never want to see that face. Ever. That color either.

I scanned the choir loft and, to my amazement, I saw happy, tone-deaf choir members. They thought they rocked that anthem. Having Dearly Departing Choir Director say, “Great job, guys. I’m really proud of you!” only encouraged them.

Yeah. No. Not in a million years.

Chuck now had a gang of musical scallywags with heart and confidence to direct, his Pasty at his side. Chuck’s mission: to improve church attendance with the choir—not because we were so awful, but because we were so awesome. Like Mickey, when Chuck had a plan, there was no stopping him.

Would “heart” and confidence be enough to make this Methodist Choir awesome?