Tonight’s singing was one of the best we’ve had in a long time. We had four or five newcomers, and were a little short on tenors, and even so we sounded fabulous. And it was one of those singings where it kept getting better; it didn’t reach a peak and then fall off. At 9:23 p.m., a few minutes before our ending time, one of our trebles stood up to lead 163b China, which we know well and which is one of those tunes that can reach amazing heights of emotion that begins in measure 9 and peaks in measure 12 with the words “Jesus” and “souls.”
We finished singing China at 9:26 p.m. It was Erika’s turn. She paused for a moment, and said, “Wouldn’t that be a good one to end on?” But Hal pointed out that we had another four minutes, and some others of us said, Don’t let’s stop now. But Erika said, “I’m exhausted,” and passed. Honestly, I was tired too, and was glad I wasn’t going to have to lead, but I also wasn’t ready to stop singing. Then the rest of the altos passed, and the first two basses passed; bringing it to Jeremy, who stood up and said, “Let’s sing 347.” This really was a perfect choice: it’s a tune we know well, and the poetry lends itself to closing a singing.
And just as we had been singing very well indeed all evening, we sang 347 “Christian’s Farewell” very well indeed. I was glad Jeremy led it: I needed something to bring me back down off the peak China had left me on, just as the last four measures of China bring you back down from the peak in measure 12.
This evening, I especially noticed that our intonation was better than it’s ever been. Even when we’re singing our best, we in the Berkeley singing have had a tendency to tune ourselves a little too sweetly.