At 7 am this morning my mobile phone buzzed, it was a text message from the churches music director. I was aware that he had been unwell during the week, I was also aware that my backup organist was also down with a cold. I had three hours to come up with some way to support the music for the Sunday service.
At this late stage it was going to be almost impossible to find another musician and I am not one of those Pastors with built-in musical aptitude. I began to reason that it was not a communion Sunday more any particular seasonal event like Easter, Pentecost or Transfiguration Sunday. So perhaps it would not be the end of the world for there to be no musicians. Given the pandemic panic during the last week over the Covid19 virus perhaps I could just call the whole service off, put up a sign and go home early.
It was then that my mind fired up this was just the moment I was waiting for to test my new digital Plan. Could it possible to use digital media to support a service of worship? I have used lots of music and video clips to help to make a point and I know that youth workers have been doing this in one way or another since the mid 80’s. Here was a chance to produce and test my EMH,
not an emergency medical hologram as seen on Star Trek Voyager, an emergency MUSICAL hologram.
Yeah umm… it sounds much better in my head “please state the nature of the musical emergency”
We have been recording our services for the past year and a half and have in that time built up a repertoire of commonly used traditional hymns and anthems. I quickly got to work on finding the video recordings of the services containing the hymns for todays service and used Audacity to make mp3 files of the hymns I needed. I embedded these in the power point for the day and there is was emergency musical accompaniment for the congregation and choir.
Not exactly the holographic appearance I had first imagined but certainly it did the job and I was able to proceed with my service.
There are still a lot of questions to work out before I can create an EMH to share with congregations in need around the world but a good start!
The choir was able to sing a duet with itself from a former service, the congregation was inspired by the sounds of the mp3. Emergency averted.
We will have to see what becomes of this invention birthed from the necessity today but I have a feeling we may see the EMH again some time and perhaps even an Emergency Preaching Hologram for when I am unable to fill the pulpit. The possibilities for digital substitution could be endless.