I was up earlier than usual and arrived much earlier than usual at the Hull Unitarian Church, in order to set up a computer box, screen, keyboard and mouse, plugged into the central part of a hi fi and also plugged into a five octave keyboard. I also had headphones, speakers, and two microphones. I can't actually play the keyboard, although I have some sense of a tune. I can't read music. As I child I did some basic piano work but gave up.
The church has no organist so relies on CDs. One jumped at a hymn so I went to the computer immediately and clicked on the .WAV file of the many numbers visible (one file for each hymn) and so music was provided then without fuss or delay and without error.
The purpose of the equipment was to produce a one off recording of a pianist who, for eyesight reasons, no longer plays regularly, and was accompanied by a small transient choir, to produce just the sort of support as in ordinary services but for a baby naming service shortly. Recording digitally via software I later in the night edited and produced three versions and in email attachments have asked for a sort of vote for the best (via conversions to MP3 - but I use uncompressed .WAV files to avoid degrading quality, and as they show how much space they'll take on a made audio CD).
Not having anyone who can and does play for congregational participation does lead to interesting creative solutions. Next week I take the service, and like those files the music is checked against the hymn verses; I shall have all the music on one CD I will create myself and this is done for others as and when asked.
The service was coherent in theme about leaping into the unknown, delivered from a Unitarian woman down Doncaster way. I didn't even realise it was Trinity Sunday in Anglican land until this evening, when I alone changed the words to the hymns I was singing. I'd thought it was Pentecost - I'd missed non-Unitarian services last week, partly because of that ridiculous letter just out from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The evening Anglican sermon didn't bother to attempt to justify the Trinity. As something of a non-realist in religion, I regard the whole Trinity/ Unity thing as a sterile argument or three anyway and it's all mythic language. I also expand my religious terms through different faiths.
The trouble with taking so much equipment is reassembling it so it works. Obviously I have, otherwise this blog entry could not have happened.
I've done the review of Don Cupitt's latest book Theology's Strange Return (SCM Press) and sent him a copy. I'll upload it very soon for the wider public.