23 December – You

I live in Cambridge, UK.  One of the most famous Christmas traditions here is the service of carols and lessons from King’s College Chapel on Christmas Eve.  Each year, the 3 pm service is broadcast live to millions around the world.  Since 1919, the service has always started with a lone treble chorister singing the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City.

The choirmaster doesn’t tell the choristers who the soloist will be until seconds before the carol starts.  All the boy sopranos need to be ready to sing, and when the time comes, the choirmaster looks directly at one and gestures for him to step forward There is no time to get wound up or lost in nerves;  the singer is surprised into song.

Today, go back to your writing wish list from 11 December.  Choose one of the pieces you listed and surprise it into being.  Give it no time to waver or stall, nod to it with supreme authority:  ‘You. Now.

And start writing.

How does this writing prompt advent calendar work?
This entry was posted in Music and art, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Prompt Advent Calendar 2013. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 23 December – You

  1. Marie says:

    Melissa, I am enjoying the voices of the choir. What a wonderful lesson and gift the choirmaster gives and teaches with this approach to who sings the solo. The most important time is now. It is the only time we can really be in, the rest we imagine, but never happens.

    As for my writing list from the other day, they have already been written and are in the queue to come out on my blog. I guess my list was a practical exercise that I meant to complete and have.

  2. Melissa says:

    There is a piece I’ve been wanting to write about the serendipity of the radio, and why there are some pieces of music I don’t want to own recordings of. They seem to arrive by the airwaves at fortuitous times. To have a recording and be able to listen to, say, Sibelius Symphony no. 2, whenever I wanted would take away the magic of chance meetings. It’s the same kind of serendipity of going into a bookstore with no agenda, as opposed to searching for a book online or at the library. I’ve found a lot of interesting voices and writers just by wandering up and down the aisles. Not sure where the piece is going or what it will ultimately be about, but I think I’ll sign off here and go follow that trail of thought in a notebook.

  3. Christina says:

    I didn’t dare do the writing wishlist on December 11th. I’ve done one every year since 2010, and most of the pieces I aspire to write never happen. By the time I review the list, I realise I don’t want to write most of them anymore; I’m very indecisive about what to write. So when I saw that prompt, I just thought to myself, and realised that before I plan any more projects, I want to practise writing. I want to do more prompts, more exercises, and see where that leads me.
    It’s funny that todays exercise should take us back to the list of the 11th, because today I bought a writing prompts book called “642 Things to Write About” and completed the first one in it.
    Having read the prompt on here today, I’ve also revisited the idea of a writing wishlist. I made one, with just two items on it, both of which I really want to write. I do like the idea of having a choirmaster who can suddenly call me to action on one of them. I’m going to invite him into my subconscious to get me going very soon.

    • Melissa says:

      Oh – I like the idea of a choirmaster trump card lurking around in the subconscious. Sometimes a bit of no-nonsense authority can do wonders!

      I think I’ve been experimenting a lot with prompts and various directions with writing since starting this blog – it’s been really fun and has led me to do much more than would have been on a writing wishlist. But, about a year ago, I took a writing class and we were asked to make a wishlist for our first assignment. I wrote down 10 ideas of things I’d been hoping/meaning/wanting to write about more deliberately. I guess at that point, I found it helpful to create a direction. I like to think of a constant play between focused work and free-writing, experimenting.

      I’ve so enjoyed your bits of writing here – hope to hear more from you on your blogs!

  4. Jill says:

    What a touching tradition for the Cambridge service! (Coincidentally, I’d never heard “Once in Royal David’s City” until a week ago, when it was part of an advent service I played cello in. In our performance, a small childrens’ choir sang the first verse before the adult choir took over. Some of the children were very young, and it was a charming sound.)

    Thank you for today’s prompt! I customized it, and my response, for my day (and my list, of course) and it was perfect. I told my second item from my list – songs for each of the seasons – that it was up. I already have songs for summer, autumn, and winter, so today’s goal was a song for spring. During the afternoon, as I cleaned and cooked, I tweaked a tune I’d started coming up with a few weeks ago. I’d like it to work as a round (as two of my finished seasonal songs do), but will need to check that using composition software or a friend. Tonight while I was washing dishes, I began on the lyrics. These aren’t done yet. The other three songs all ended up having references to light and to looking/seeing, so I wanted to work those themes in. The general idea I came up with this evening is seeing the color return to the world as morning brightens. These aren’t long songs – more like short hymns or rounds.

    As the stars begin to fade
    In the earliest hour of day
    Witness the colors returning to the world
    As the morning fills the air

    It’s a starting point. These words fit the melody, but the last line at least needs work. In any case, I’m closer than I was to having a spring song. Thanks for the nudge to “surprise it into being,” Melissa!

    • Melissa says:

      Yay!! I’d love to hear your season songs! Are you a garage-band fan? I did something with someone in California last summer – she sent me a track and I put down a track and she mixed them together. It was really fun.

      And I want to say how very marvelous to have season songs be rounds!

      Happy Holidays Jill – thanks so much for joining in on the advent calendar!!

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