Sundays are my time to shine, so if you’ll allow me I’m going to take you through the thrills and spills of one. Sure, I’m sometimes allowed out during the week, but never for quite as long or as satisfyingly as on a Sunday morning. Let’s rock and roll.
I won’t deny, it was a rocky start on our journey towards worship-team-dom. So many teenage hours repeating the same four chords. OK, so maybe that hasn’t changed much… but at least there’s more than just Wonderwall in the repertoire these days. And I’m no longer used as a means to woo unsuspecting female members of the Christian Union, in scuzzy yet intimate student digs. Now we’re here to woo the women with our grown-up, mature worship. Wait, no, he said I wasn’t allowed to say that. Now we’re here to Worship The Lord. (Though if the deep V-neck catches the eye of any particularly lovely ladies while we’re at it, we won’t complain, right?) All I can say is at least now he’s got rid of that rainbow strap he insisted we use back in the day, we might stand a chance. It wasn’t doing us any favours.
We got here super early this morning, or so he told me. I seem to have much more enthusiasm about mornings than he does. I think he mentioned it being ‘earlier than going to work’ and that ‘there had better be coffee’ as he huffed around gathering his things this morning before he flung me in the boot. Thankfully he had a little pray in the car and by the time we arrived and he unclipped my case I think he actually wanted to be there. I lay there in the open case for several minutes as leads got plugged in, and people tentatively sipped coffee and welcomed each other in morning-voices.
The bass arrives.
Why does he have to be so big? I mean, I’m not intimidated, I know my own worth, but…
Having had a good rehearsal first thing, we’re about to get going on the main event. The stage lights have been turned on, and the pastor is giving his welcome. He opens his Bible to read a Psalm. Before I can even think about it I’m strumming gently. Call me old-fashioned, I just don’t think anyone in church should have to minister unaccompanied. It seems to work; the congregation are generally closing their eyes and opening their hands, it’s going well. Little do they know we’re about to rev this up to a lively praise session, at least for the first three songs anyway. Suckers.
The Psalm draws to a close, and we up the tempo into the classic Hillsong-Chris Tomlin-Paul Baloche opening trio. Congregational eyes have opened and hands are clapping; we must be doing something right. Ten, 20 minutes later, pretty worn out from so many solid minutes of up-tempo worship – I don’t have the same stamina of my youth – I welcome going back to contemplative strumming as someone comes up to pray. Again – gotta keep the accompaniment. Can you imagine if someone prayed into a quiet hall? I shudder at the thought. But strumming is what I’m good for, really. Gentle pick-y, strummy joy. They don’t call me Strummy McStrumface for nothing – and I’m not letting Bassy McBassface steal this moment.
We move into a few more contemplative numbers before we close the session and I’m left, resplendent – if still ever so slightly dusty, I don’t get polished nearly as often as I did when I was new – up on my stand on stage while the preacher gets up to give their message. It’s edifying stuff, but I’m distracted all the way through by having been left in the eye-line of the violin. So delicate, such seductive curves, such a beautiful voice… and such a flirt. I try to avoid her gaze, but spend much of the preach wondering what our children would look like. I give up after imagining a lifetime of viola jokes – everyone knows that the difference between a viola and a trampoline is that you take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline, or them being destined to a life as a mandolin in a Mumford and Sons tribute act. Neither of those is a life I want for my children. Pull yourself together, Jeff. You’re better than this.
The ministry time/worship reprise closes the service, with one final chance to do all that I was created to do. I used to think that was to make women swoon, sing from the middle-reaches of the soul and be kinda snazzy. I’ve realised recently that actually it’s to usher people in the presence of God, in the most beautiful way possible. Don’t hate me, but I think I’ve found my vocation.
As the service ends the meeting leader claps my man on the shoulder in a friendly yet masculine way. “Really well done, mate, thanks. That was great.” Really well done. Huh. Do I ever get any of the credit? Does he have strings, or an audio output jack? But as he tucks me back in my case, stealing a glance to make sure nobody’s looking, he lovingly rubs the duster down my strings and tucks me in with it. “Good job, Jeff,” he whispers quietly: “You still got it.”
He shuts the case before he can see me blush. Still got it.
Emily would like to state that Jeff the guitar and his man are entirely fictional. Any resemblances between these characters and real people are entirely coincidental. Any resemblances between the minx of a violin and Emily’s violin are not. This is me calling you out, Vivi, you flirt.