I got to St. James for the Easter Vigil around 5:15, to find that there was no power in the church. There was electricity in the parish house, but not in the church building. I assumed this was because of the high wind we had had. I found out after the service that the truth was much more sinister. Across Whittier, construction is proceeding on the new building for Rainey Institute. Some Cleveland Electric Illuminating trucks had been there earlier in the afternoon, and apparently the scaffolding on the north side of the building was rising close to the wires, and they were presenting a hazard to workers, so they were cut… and the pole they were feeding was the church’s pole. The parish house was fed by a different pole, on the other side of the street (and some reports suggested it might be Muni on that side rather than CEI). CEI was called about the situation, a truck came by and saw what had happened, and left.
One of the choristers is a handyman and had his truck, and ran extension cords from the parish house to the front and back of the church. He rigged the altar light, and ran another cord to a table lamp perched perilously on a Manhasset stand in the choir loft. There’s a big west-facing stained glass window there, so we had light enough for a long time, and I had a good flashlight in my car. But the organ blower is a hard-wired 220 15 amp circuit. This wasn’t such an issue at first, as the organ is still off for Holy Week. But it’s supposed to go on for the Gloria, which was a bit low-key as a result. Also, there’s no Offertory in that liturgy, but there’s supposed to be organ music there to cover for action at the altar. So somebody, whispering, decided to do Salzburg (“At the Lamb’s high feast we sing”, 1940 hymnal #89). We were men only, so Mark sang lead, I sang alto, Dennis tenor…and the guy who was supposed to sing bass didn’t get the memo in the confusion, so he sang the melody too. Still, it sounded pretty good for being unrehearsed and barely seeing the music.
We doubt we’ll have proper power tomorrow, though we’re working on a kludge for the organ. It’s Anthony Rispo’s first Easter at St. James, so it would be a pity if he couldn’t make a big noise. We’re doing Mozart’s Missa Brevis, K. 220, so we’ll have instrumental music (string quartet and trumpets). I advised Anthony to make sure his players bring cordless stand lights, if they have them, and I’ll bring one myself, as it’s supposed to be rainy and dark.
My next step is to get the media involved, because this is news. Most journalists are pinkos and would love an opportunity to beat up on the electric company. That’s not normally something I’d encourage, but in this case they deserve to be beat up on. And it would help put the church on the map.
I don’t want to sound like Ultraguy, but I have to wonder what it means if a church gets its light and power from unofficial sources. I was joking about the catacombs before the service…maybe it’s not a laughing matter.