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Humility or humiliation

I cantor occasionally at church. I'm not great, but I'm decent. This past Sunday, however, was a train wreck. Not an "oops, I didn't hit that note" or "boy, that was a clunker" but an honest-to-goodness-start-to-finish train wreck.

I didn't get any of the music until just before Mass and had little time to practice. Two of the hymns were brand new. I blew it.

Now, I've messed up before and all is well. I did not climb in a hole and weep. But this Sunday was different. It was rather humiliating. I was supposed to be a leader of prayer and instead was a distraction.

I know part of this is my fault. I also know a big part of it was out of my control. Now I'm trying to figure out if I should continue in this role - if I'm not going to be decent at it, but rather a distraction, I shouldn't be doing it. Or am I just reacting to the embarrassment?

Was this a lesson in humility or an episode of humiliation?


  1. Well two of the hymns being new was out of your control. As for the rest, I wasn't there, can't judge. And the One who can, He loves you.

    Is there a way you can get the hymns and other music the week before? And I know, life so often interferes.

    As to whether you should continue, pray. I vote for a stumble, a humility lesson. And even though you may not have been at your best, we often have a distorted view things, and not for the better.

    Could be Satan has found a way to reign you in a bit, trying slow you down. Personally, I'd rather see someone who faltered get back up there and go again. [Take that! Prince of Darkness!]

    I'll keep on praying for you and your family.

    Jan Farmer

  2. Thanks, Jan! I appreciate the kind words and shot of confidence!

  3. I used to serve as an organist, and often I was pretty bad, and knew it and felt it. What was most humbling was the kindness of the congregation. They knew, as worshippers, that we're all in this together, that worship is above all corporate, and the musical sins of the one are the sins of the many, so we just got on with things. It was the best we could do.

    Worship is not a concert, so there shouldn't be performance anxiety. Keep on serving until you're relieved, is my advice, and if you are relieved, don't feel bad about that, either. Blessings to you, and, as one church musician to another, thank you for being willing to serve. So many aren't. (I only stepped up because I was sure my fumbling efforts would flush out someone more competent. Ten years later...)

  4. I've been there and done that. I'm a convert, so initially most of the music was new to me. And often, someone who was supposed to do it didn't show, so I got tapped on the shoulder and only had a minute or two to look over everything. After one discouraging Sunday, I confessed to a friend that I thought I should just back away and let someone else do it. She said, "No matter how badly you feel you did, most of us are sitting there grateful that WE don't have to do it!" She made me laugh. The only thing I began doing differently was that I practiced EVERY week, just in case the person assigned for that Sunday didn't show up. Now we're in a parish with trained professional musicians, so I leave it to them. :-) ~ Rosemary


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