At last week's Nine lessons and Carols we were well rehearsed, in good voice and still relatively fresh. (Not too many extra services so far).
We had, however, forgotten one important factor of this lovely service - candles.
We each had two books and several single sheets of paper to carry, plus the order of service booklet and.....oh horror, a candle.
Now I must admit that the church, tea lights, small votive candles and larger man-size ones in sconces is a very pretty sight, however, the choir must not only sing by a poorish light, inhale smoke and incense, turn the pages of the books and swap from book to sheet and back again, all while clutching in the other hand a candle, upright, so as not to drip grease everywhere.
This was further complicated by the musical director deciding to move us all over to one side instead of on either side of the chancel, for just two of the numbers.
Now, add holding up robes so not to trip over them (most of them are too long), and crossing the aisle clutching all the aforementioned paraphernalia. Can you picture it? A recipe for disaster.
This came in the form of one of the small choristers setting light, first to her papers and then almost, her hair.
Fortunately, it was spotted and dealt with quickly and no-one in the congregation noticed.
Last night, in addition to all the other candles we had tea-lights on the 'shelves' for want of a better word round the pillars near the high alter.
This was very pretty and added to the beauty of Midnight Mass, until a few of us during the sermon spotted a small conflagration among those extra tea-lights. "2 or possibly 3 of them" had merged, and a small bonfire was starting before our startled eyes.
We somehow signalled to the musical director who was seated opposite us at the organ and once he saw what was happening he hopped down from his seat and proceeded to make the flame considerably larger.
He then returned to the organ, grabbed a hefty bundle of music and bashed the fire on the head, which, thank heaven, worked.
Once again, no-one in the congregation noticed and neither did the rector.
When we told him about it after,his response was, "they've had candles in churches for hundreds of years".
Nice to know the choir have some value even if only as firelighters!
Needless to say we were waiting with baited breath to see what would happen this morning, but, while it was a lovely happy service for all involved,there was no cabaret.