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 Music for St. Andrew’s, Victoria
 By Christine Purvis, Director of Music Ministry, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Victoria, B.C. This article originally appeared in the St. Andrew’s newsletter, The Link.
Was it only a few months ago that I was able to arrive nice and early at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Victoria, B.C., do a warm-up prac- tice with the choir and then happily play the service music I’d prepared for that Sunday? Didn’t life seem so simple back then?
It was late February. I was shop- ping at Lifestyle Market and heard another customer mention he was stocking up for the pandemic. I shook my head at the silliness. Then, suddenly, everything changed, and the fellow didn’t seem so crazy. For a while, buying toilet paper was like searching for the Holy Grail and there were line-ups in front of gro- cery stores that looked like the kind of thing you’d see for the opening of a new Star Wars movie or big rock concert. Once inside, I’d be faced with gaping holes in the shelves where I used to find the gluten-free flours and other necessities I need. Social distancing, isolation became the norm and “mask or no mask” was the hot topic of conversation—if you had anyone to talk to anymore.
All this pandemic pandemonium has had quite a profound effect on everybody—not to mention those preparing music for services. How do you put together a Sunday service with the church closed and social distancing in force? If you’re in the younger set, the word “online” does
not strike the same terror in your heart as those born long before com- puters became a household item.
I will confess that I’ve used a com- puter for some years in a rather dab- bling way. My children managed to show me enough to do basic email, banking and Google searches—even if I had to endure a lot of eye rolling at my constant mistakes. If I was go- ing to prepare music for an online setting, I had to learn more computer skills than I ever imagined. After three months of trying, it’s becoming a lit- tle easier, but if I look thinner and more frazzled these days, it’s not just because of my hip surgery.
The “delightful” online process of music making begins, as it always has, with choosing hymns to go with the themes and scriptures. I only need to choose three hymns for each week—one for the “This Week at St. Andrew’s” newsletter and two for Sunday, giving some thought to how many verses to include and which ones. After that, I plan out other music: preludes, meditative pieces and postludes. When I can, I like to choose these pieces with the hymn tunes in mind—a lovely postlude that’s based on the tune of one of the hymns is often just the thing to end a service. As nimble as my fingers are, all these pieces require a great deal of practice so that they flow in a performance. I find it an advantage to choose the music about a month in advance so I have adequate time for practice.
Once the pieces are chosen and practiced, it comes time to record. Perhaps you have thoughts of re-
cording studios with sound-proofed rooms, numberless expensive micro- phones, acres of wires and mixing boards with more knobs and but- tons than the command post on the Starship Enterprise. In these places, sound engineers can mix the sounds from different sources, fix wrong notes, correct intonation, make things play faster or slower, and a multitude of other amazing things that make you wonder if they actually need the musi- cian. Of course, they also cost hun- dreds of dollars an hour to use.
So, that’s not quite an option. I do some recording in the church sanctuary, where the soundproofing consists of luck and a few signs on the doors that say “RECORDING IN PROGRESS.” At home, I have my lit- tle music room and the soundproof- ing is... Well, there’s a husband and Max, our Schnauzer Cross dog. I’m not sure who can create the most noise but I’m sure they start compet- ing with each other whenever I start recording. So, I wait until they leave for a walk before attempting to record anything and hope the phone doesn’t ring in the middle of things.
Jerry Verwey, who does the sound recording at the church, provides some good microphones and mixing, whereas my home studio is equipped with the microphone built into my iPhone and a program (I call them “apps” if I’m feeling modern) called “Audio-recorder.” Brian Titus some- times helps edit the recordings and can patch in a new ending if there’s enough space in the music to make a cut.
Since I hate having mistakes in the
recording, it can take two, three, or more times through a piece before I get one that’s acceptable. If I mess up, I record the whole thing again. Once that is done, I send it from my phone to my computer by email— that takes another app, by the way. That way, if I drop my phone or lose it, I haven’t lost all my work. From the computer, I play the recording through my iPad connected to small Bose speakers—that took some learning and a few purchases. When I have the recording I like, I file it for use later.
The process for hymns and an- thems is slightly different from a straight instrumental piece. If I am recording a hymn myself, I play it on my piano at home and sing along. It’s quite tricky to play the piano part, sing the melody and remember all the words. It might take quite a few run-throughs to get all the words and notes right. When our delightful cho- ral scholar, Emma, provides some hymns or music, she does basically the same thing; although Emily, an- other talented choral scholar, is able to record multiple lines and put them together, something that causes me to sin...yes, it’s called envy.
When you hear singing in our on- line worship music, it’s after I record the piano part and send it to our sing- ers. They record themselves as they sing along and send the result back to me.
Some hymns and anthems are recorded at the church with Susie Henderson, Brian Titus and Kilmeny Jones doing the singing. We set up mics at least six feet apart and check
before we start recording. Jerry re- cords and sends our best take to me by email. Other musicians who have played for our service music have re- corded themselves and emailed me their recording.
Now comes the time to upload the music onto a program called Slack. Yes, I had to learn another program to do this. It’s a handy program as it also allows the Rev. Mitch Coggin, Whitney, our office administrator, Martin, our web technician, and I to communicate online as a group. The music gets uploaded a week before broadcast to give Whitney time to put it all together and add wonder- ful, lovely pictures to accompany the music. You can watch and enjoy the complete worship videos on our website at
That’s how I am able to sleep in on Sunday mornings and still provide music. This way I get to sit and lis- ten to the lovely service with all the parts—mellow and relaxed. This feeling is good for about five min- utes after the service finishes. Then I’m back to thinking about choosing, recording, etc., the music for the fol- lowing week.
  Summer Ministry in Regina
  Participants of Vacation Bible School.
By Sumi Jung, Norman Kennedy Presbyterian Church in Regina, Sask.
For the past 50 years, Norman Ken- nedy Presbyterian Church in Regina, Sask., has strived to convey the love of Christ through fellowship, prayer and building relationships with our
neighbours around the church.
Our neighbours include many families with young children who live in apartment complexes that al- most surround Norman Kennedy PC. Knowing the difficulties of parents with children who could not go to school due to COVID-19, our church
decided to provide family outdoor ac- tivities and Vacation Bible School in- person this summer as an outreach program serving our neighbours.
We prepared outdoor and indoor activities for VBS. Carefully follow- ing COVID-19 guidelines, children’s masks, hand sanitizers, thermome- ters and more were prepared. Thank- fully, several members of our church and volunteers from a neighbouring church were very supportive teach- ers, helpers and snack managers.
Our church also offered free Tues- day outdoor activities for the neigh- bourhood to help support our com- munity. For five weeks each Tuesday, a program of outdoor games, chal- lenges, dancing and other activities were presented, and many of our neighbours (children and their par-
Outdoor activities at Norman Kennedy Presbyterian Church.
ents, too!) participated. Their accept- ance and participation were beyond our expectations!
Although it was not an event to preach the gospel, this fellowship brought our relationship with our neighbours closer. We pray that our
neighbours felt the love of the Lord along with the joy and warmth of our church.
Above all, we are so thankful to God for being with us, so that we could carry out our church outreach program safely and successfully.

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