When I was at St. Gabriel’s for elementary school we would always put on a Christmas program right before Christmas break. This was a big to-do; weeks and weeks were spent in preparation for it. Each class had its own set of songs to sing, arranged by our music teacher.
In between acts, when a younger grade was being replaced by an older grade, individuals would play stuff on the piano or [in my case, sometimes] the saxophone. The boys and girls would sometimes harmonize [if we were in older grades] and no matter what the grade, there were always solos. I remember once that I sang “He is Born”* in an angelic descant. At least it felt that way.
This tune dates back to 13th century Poland where it was often sung by boys as they made their way toward church for midnight mass. In their processional to the church they would sing this song as they reenacted the arrival of the Maji.
When I say that this was a big deal, I mean that it was for us, the students. I’m sure the parents just played along for the most part; but for me every time was like opening night must be on Broadway, anxiety mixed with anticipation. Part of what led to this feeling was the build-up, the constant practices, and the challenges of our music teacher.
Being on that stage, which is burned into my being since it is always the stage in my dreams was amazing as well. As old and dilapidated as it was, it was obvious that at one point it had been great. It had the old-style exposed lights old oaken floors and a huge main curtain with several other curtains hauled up in that place where all the curtains/sets get hauled up to. Old ropes, sandbags, you name it, this old thing had it. Anyway, the point is, all of that taken together made it an extra special evening. Plus we all got to be up late since showtime was at 7:30 and it ran for a few hours. The place was always packed. Afterward we always went to Dairy Queen and my Grandpa would treat. Still makes me smile.