Spoiled Solemnity

 

Sometimes serious moments are broken to hilarious effect.

Our parish’s music director and cantor is currently on heavy pain medication after surgery. Consequently, he missed a line during a song at Mass this morning — the first time I’ve heard him goof in decades. It was a call-and-response song, meaning the congregation repeats what he sings. When he missed the line and laughed at himself — “Ha!” — some jokesters behind me responded in kind.

Elsewhere in the Mass, our lively priest from Nigeria gave an impassioned sermon. It was sufficiently upbeat to earn a cheer of “Yeah!” from my two-year-old niece.

What are some funny moments from your own serious proceedings? Worship, weddings, funerals, trials, business meetings, etc.

Another example is when I was put in charge of playing music from a portable stereo at certain times during my cousin’s wedding. At some point, I mistook one pause for another (wrong section) and played a few notes to startled stares. Thankfully, my cousin didn’t even remember the episode last I mentioned it.

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There are 17 comments.

  1. Franco Member

    Comment deleted by the author.

    • #1
    • April 21, 2019, at 9:23 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Franco Member

    If I may, here’s a good example of what you’re talking about.

    • #2
    • April 21, 2019, at 9:33 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  3. EJHill Podcaster

    It wasn’t during the actual ceremony but for our wedding rehearsal when the minister asked, “Who gives this woman to this man?” my future father-in-law replied, “Her father and I.” Everyone burst out laughing. 

    “What? What did I say?”

    His wife just rolled her eyes and sighed, “Oh, Bob….”

    • #3
    • April 21, 2019, at 10:02 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. She Thatcher
    She

    The daughter of a friend of ours took issue with the parish priest when she was old enough to understand the message of Easter. She’d learned the hard lesson, when her guinea pig died, that “Buster” (or whatever his name was), was not coming back, and that death was final. So the idea that Christ was resurrected from the dead struck her as quite wrongheaded, and she made a bit of a stink about it, in church, during the service.

    • #4
    • April 21, 2019, at 10:15 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. Juliana Member

    When my daughter Sonia was three, a priest who had been an old family friend passed away. We went to the funeral which was attended by many priests and bishops. My husband was standing outside the church holding Sonia while the priests processed in. When the bishops came, all wearing their miters, my daughter said, “Uh-oh, Indians.”

    • #5
    • April 21, 2019, at 5:09 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    So far the moral of these stories is to always have that extra goldfish or guinea pig handy!

    • #6
    • April 21, 2019, at 5:34 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. She Thatcher
    She

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    So far the moral of these stories is to always have that extra goldfish or guinea pig handy!

    Indeed. My only goldfish story also concerns friends, a couple whose little boy had a goldfish who lived in a tank in the kitchen. One morning, “Mom” came downstairs in the morning to discover “Flippy” floating belly-up at the top of the tank. Shortly thereafter, her son (I’ll call him Jack), who was about four, wandered down for breakfast. By that time, Mom had removed Flippy from the scene. “Where’s Flippy?” Jack asked. “Uhh . . . Flippy’s gone to camp! With his friends! He’s having a great time!” said Mom. “Oh, OK,” said Jack.

    By the afternoon, Mom had a plan. She announced that she and Jack were going to collect Flippy from camp, and off they went to the local PetSmart. Mom had a quick word with the cashier as they went in. “Oh, look at all the fish!” said Mom. Do you see Flippy in there with his friends?”

    Jack studied the aquarium intently. Suddenly, he yelled, “Yes! There’s Flippy!” ‘Flippy’ was scooped out in a net, put in a bagful of water, checked out of camp, and taken home. All was well.

    • #7
    • April 21, 2019, at 6:00 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  8. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    She (View Comment):
    Jack studied the aquarium intently. Suddenly, he yelled, “Yes! There’s Flippy!” ‘Flippy’ was scooped out in a net, put in a bagful of water, checked out of camp, and taken home. All was well.

    That’s just like the time my dad opened my bird’s cage outside “to see if it would come back.” 

    Well, maybe more like the time the replacement parakeet escaped inside the house and was missing… before my dad opened the door. 

    I like to think his birdwatching in retirement is penance.

    • #8
    • April 21, 2019, at 7:17 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  9. Suspira Member

    For the Easter service, some things were added/omitted and others rearranged. When the time for the sermon came, the dean made no move toward the pulpit, obviously waiting for the sermon hymn to commence. But it had been cut for time. The music director had to go whisper in his ear, “You’re on!”

    Foul-ups from the clergy always amuse those of us in the choir. We’re always trying so hard not to be the one to make a bloomer. I count it as a victory every year I manage not to do that dreaded accidental solo in the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Double victory for the team if no one does it. 

    • #9
    • April 22, 2019, at 7:52 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  10. Full Size Tabby Member

    Suspira (View Comment):

    For the Easter service, some things were added/omitted and others rearranged. When the time for the sermon came, the dean made no move toward the pulpit, obviously waiting for the sermon hymn to commence. But it had been cut for time. The music director had to go whisper in his ear, “You’re on!”

    Foul-ups from the clergy always amuse those of us in the choir. We’re always trying so hard not to be the one to make a bloomer. I count it as a victory every year I manage not to do that dreaded accidental solo in the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Double victory for the team if no one does it.

    We in the choir do get to see more of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, and as you say we have our own fears of missing something. Yesterday no one in our choir did the dreaded accidental solo at the end of the Hallelujah Chorus at either service. 

    At our prior church, the pastor was constantly rearranging the order of worship, and then messing up the execution of the printed order. This put the most pressure on the organist. Hence, when we hired organists (for many years we hired students from the organ program at a nearby music school, so we had to hire a new organist each time one of them graduated), the organist’s ability to handle unexpected events in the worship service became a high priority skill. One time when the pastor realized he did something out of order, he tried to give hand signals to the (then brand new, on his second or third week with us) organist about what should happen next. But, the new organist didn’t understand the hand signals, since he didn’t know the pastor well, so the organist had to call out, “I don’t know what [hand gesture] means. Where do we go now?” 

    Since the denomination was not “high church,” and the congregation was accustomed to the pastor’s tendency to deviate from the printed order of worship, nobody got upset. However, sometimes if the pastor skipped over something significant, such as the choir’s anthem, we in the choir would just call out to him to get him to cycle back to where he should have been.

    • #10
    • April 22, 2019, at 8:57 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Full Size Tabby Member

    My own blooper was a number of years ago at a congregation in which lay people did all of the worship leadership except for the sermon. After leading a responsive reading for which the congregation was standing, I instructed the congregation to sit, completely missing the fact that the next item in the service was a song for which the congregation was to stand. So, the song leader had to get the congregation to stand back up just after I told them to sit. 

    The opposite occurred at our daughter’s wedding when the officiant forgot to seat the congregation when it was time for the bride and groom to exchange vows, and so the congregation stood for that (fortunately short) section of the ceremony.

    • #11
    • April 22, 2019, at 9:06 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. Mathias Member

    I’ve always remembered one such moment of spoiled solemnity from my childhood that occurred during a worship service. The pastor was leading the congregation in a prayer, the text of which was printed in the order of worship that had been handed out for the service. One portion petitioned God “…and guard us from the evil power of satan.” Unfortunately, a typo on the part of the church secretary had rendered that phrase as “…and guard us from the evil power of Stan.” I remember the pastor heroically trying to hold back laughter and keep his composure.

    • #12
    • April 22, 2019, at 9:06 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Full Size Tabby Member

    She (View Comment):

    The daughter of a friend of ours took issue with the parish priest when she was old enough to understand the message of Easter. She’d learned the hard lesson, when her guinea pig died, that “Buster” (or whatever his name was), was not coming back, and that death was final. So the idea that Christ was resurrected from the dead struck her as quite wrongheaded, and she made a bit of a stink about it, in church, during the service.

    And the girl was right – the resurrection of Christ makes no sense. According to Luke’s account, when the women told the apostles that Jesus was not in the tomb, “they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense” (Luke 24:11 NIV).

    Many of us have heard the resurrection story so often that we tend to gloss over what an utterly remarkable event it is. Jesus Christ did what no one before or since had ever done. Hence we are Christians, not “Busterians.” So maybe your friend’s daughter’s response helped others see Christ’s resurrection in new light. 

    • #13
    • April 22, 2019, at 9:18 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Annefy Member

    My sisters and I simply can’t sit together at any solemn event.

    Several years ago my mother’s best friend passed away. The wheels had begun to fall off my mother’s bus; it took all three of her daughters to corral her and keep her moving in the right direction, sitting, standing, shushing, etc..

    I can’t even remember what the heck was so funny, but my shoulders were shaking so badly that someone sitting behind me patted my shoulder in comfort; from behind it looked like I was crying.


    My church is famous for its lousy music. It’s always been bad; with the aging of the “choir” and the music director things have gone from bad to parody.

    I was at Easter Mass with my daughter and her two daughters yesterday. Every time the singing started my daughter and I would glance at each other. The insides of my cheeks were raw from biting to keep from laughing.

    Sorry to say my two little grand daughters (3 and 2) were better behaved than their mother and granny.

     

    • #14
    • April 22, 2019, at 10:35 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. She Thatcher
    She

    At my Dad’s funeral, in a tiny, eleventh-century church on the ‘borders’ between Wales and England, the organist was Olive, the elderly spinster who’d generously inflicted lavished her talents on the congregation for decades. Since it was the first time I’d been in this church, I’d never heard Olive do her thing before. I’ve never heard anyone mangle church music so badly, and that’s saying something.

    One of Dad’s favorite hymns was O Valiant Hearts (sung here without accompaniment by the incomparable Sam Robson).

    Olive launched into her best effort at the the introduction to this hymn, which must be one of the best known, and most sung, “Remembrance Sunday” hymns in the UK, and I heard the woman behind me mutter, with inimitable British understatement, “well, this is deeply unfamiliar.”

    To be fair, my reaction to Olive’s assaying The Battle Hymn of the Republic was much the same.

    Dad would have found her hugely entertaining and worthwhile.

    • #15
    • April 22, 2019, at 10:54 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Post author

    She (View Comment):
    Dad would have found her hugely entertaining and worthwhile.

    That reminds me of when my grandpa, who drove recklessly, got into a wreck on the way to his own funeral. I forget the details of the hearse’s fender-bender. 

     

    • #16
    • April 22, 2019, at 11:35 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Paul Erickson Member

    My father-in-law was rather short. Even though his daughter is only 4-11, he still had trouble lifting the veil over her head during the wedding ceremony. After he kissed her and took his seat, Rosemary whispered to me,”fix my veil!” So I obediently brought it down over her face again.

    Hey, I’d never done this before! How was I supposed to know?

    • #17
    • April 23, 2019, at 10:29 AM PDT
    • 3 likes