Saturday, August 2, 2014


 "Diseases, desperate grown, / By desperate appliances are relieved, / Or not at all," says Claudius, in Hamlet (IV, ii).  He knows whereof he speaks:  he’s murdered a king to marry his wife, and now he is aware that Hamlet, his stepson and nephew, has discovered his crime.  He must take desperate action.  Shakespeare couldn’t know, however, that those words would someday describe a liturgical moment.

After a week's hiatus from music ministry, I had no reason to expect the unexpected in tonight’s liturgy.  As usual in the church segment of my pre-liturgy routine, I turned on the mixer PA switch, remote-clicked to activate the power for the screen and projector, and pressed the button to lower the screen.   I retrieved the computer, with dongle and projector remote, from the sacristy, along with the hymn numbers and microphones.  Equipped, all I had to do was connect cords, press buttons, and enter codes to be ready to go.

Next, I turned on the projector.  Back at the piano, though, I heard a buzz, a buzz I had never heard before.   Was it the projector?   Too pervasive.  The sound system?  A distinct possibility.  

I  shut off the mixer.  

No more buzz.  Ah!  

On again—oh, oh!  More buzz!  


An adjustment on the volume control did nothing but mute the vibration a bit.  Vibration—that’s what it felt like.  Could the floor be involved somehow?  I stamped my foot down hard on a likely spot.  Silence.  Okay, we were in business.

The “disease“ was in remission.  Not for long, though.  Just before the Kyrie, the buzz reoccurred.  A quick on-off on the mixer proved fruitless.  I stomped tentatively, to no avail.  I’d run out of time, though.  The presider had already started the "I confess to Almighty God . . ."  Back to the piano for the next two songs.  I played and sang the Gloria on auto-pilot.  All I could think about  the whole time was how I could handle the pervasive buzz when I had finished the song.  Option 1:  Turn off the mixer when I didn't need it, and endure the buzz.  Option 2:  One more stomp.  If any moment could be considered suitable for stomping, it would be between the First Reading and the Psalm, when a pause would be expected protocol.  A noise would indeed be a distraction, but not any worse than the continual buzz or intermittent and predictable clicks of the mixer power switch.

By the end of the First Reading, I had decided on Option 2.  A desparate situation required a desparate strategy.  The reader finished the Old Testament reading, and concluded with "Thanks be to God."  I waited for her to sit down.  I got up, stood over the spot I had identified, and, with all the force I could muster, I pounded it.  The thump echoed throughout the church.  However, after that noise—silence!!

I stole a glance at the presider, admirable in his contained mirth.   The buzz was contained for the rest of the mass. 

So, another first in Yvette’s Excellent Liturgical Adventures.  Desperate measures relieved a desperate disease.  At least until tomorrow. 

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