Naturally an unlockable key box was cause for concern before this morning's Eucharist, however we lacked for nothing, or so I thought, until I had problems getting the church radio mic to work, even after two changes of battery - a pair of dead ones had been put back in the box of fresh ones, and while was a spell after I left when nobody was living in Church House to keep an eye on charging re-chargeables, the ordinary consumable kind were being used, and don't last nearly a long as those designed for the job. But during an interregnum church leaders and members have to improvise work-arounds when things don't run routinely smooth. They have my admiration!
The other unexpected this morning, apart from me having trouble navigating my way around the complexities of the Common Worship equivalent of a altar Missal, was the absence from the crib of baby Jesus. Where could He be? The church hadn't been open all week, so it was unlikely He'd been taken by a visitor. Who had moved him, we may never know. And to where?
Caroline the sacristan afterwards said that during the Intercessions she'd asked St Anthony for help. Moments later, at the Peace, Jane, who was assistant eucharistic minister for the day, walked over to greet Caroline, and spotted the Christ-child nestling between the arm and the cushion on the Vicar's stall. I sat there earlier without noticing. You could say, my attention was on higher things.
At Communion the choir were going to sing 'Lully Lullay', but choirmaster Peter had a momentary lapse of memory and launched un-stoppably into 'Torches' instead. Having learned the latter for the Carol Service a couple of weeks back, the choir followed from memory, while furtively searching the Christmas folders in front of them for the music. The quick witted organist realised there was an error, and improvised a transposition of the accompaniment from memory, working his way out of the key for 'Lullay Lullay' to that of 'Torches', with a few interesting mistakes en route.
Torches by Philippe Joubert is a piece I learned off by heart at 17, singing in Pengam school choir. The jerky start grabbed my attention, and listening to the odd harmony had me wondering if Joubert had written another harmonised version of the song. It is, in any case, fully of dissonance, slightly reminscent of medieval part songs, but very 20th century. The choir successfully rescued a disaster sprung on them, thanks to musicianship and a strong sense of cameraderie in their service of the church's liturgy. A delight, in spite of itself.
Later, after lunch I walked into Montreux along the lakeside promenade, which was very busy with people from far and wide taking an afternoon walk in the sunshine, voices chatting away in many different languages. At select sites along the lakeside there were fresh sculptures of characters and animals from some Disney movie, I think. These were large wire framed models clad in branches of fir trees, woven together, most imaginatively and skilfully executed. Over the course of the weeks, the greens will die back into russet at different rates, a transformation that will continue to make them worth looking at.
In the area along the lakeside between the Casino and Montreux's boat ferry station, centering on the classic Vaudois covered Market Hall, there's a huge prestigious Christmas market annually. This had ceased and only the bare structures remain for taking down after the New Year Holiday. These are remarkable in themselves, large custom built two storey wooden chalets serving as restuarants or retail stores, in fresh pine. It must have been quite a sight, when they were occupied and trading. On my return walk, I could hear the sound of an alpenhorn drifting across the lake, coming from Veytaux, the neighbouring commune beyond Territet. What more could I ask on New Year's Eve?
On this trip, I have brought my Sony Alpha 68 DSLR camera with me, plus lenses. The extra weight travelling will be worthwhile. It's fast to focus and easy to handle, a pleasure to use, and it produces lovely photos. Even so, it'll take me a while to master, and get the most out of. It's only failing is the lack of a built in levelling display, which both my other cheaper Sony cameras have. It's an odd omission, and calls for a different kind of concentration when framing a shot. All part of the fun, I guess.
This evening, I've been editing and uploading photos, (you can find them here) plus sending email greetings to various people, before walking out to see the New Year in. Thankfully it isn't raining now, but a week of rain is being predicted. Such a shame for Clare and Ann's visit. But now comes the turning of the year, and I couldn't be in a more delightful place. So blessed