Runners have their marathons, swimmers their swim-a-thons and dancers their dance-a-thons. Next Saturday in downtown Wilkes-Barre, singers can show they, too, have stamina.
But you needn't be a great singer or have the ability to read notes to enjoy the Hymnathon at St. Stephen's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, organist Mark Laubach said. Just come with a love for church music and feel free to request a hymn you really like.
Q. If someone wanted to request an obscure hymn, should that person bring the music?
A. "We have three different hymnals, and they range from traditional hymns to gospels and spirituals and contemporary things. We'd like people to choose from those songs, so everyone there can sing along."
Q. Are you confident you'll have enough singers to carry the tunes?
A. "We have a core group of mostly our choir who can carry the tunes very well, so we'll have enough people who will not be shy about singing out. But everyone is welcome. You don't have to be a music-reading singer."
Q. Can you give an example of hymns likely to be requested?
A.. This is the third time we've had this, and occasionally we'll get requests for Christmas carols or Easter songs. We'll probably get ‘Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee' and ‘For All The Saints' and ‘A Mighty Fortress' and ‘Onward Christian Soldiers;' occasionally (a more recently composed tune such as) ‘I Am the Bread of Life.' I'm always amazed at the wide variety."
Q. Is there still a distinction between ‘Protestant' hymns and ‘Catholic' hymns?
A. "The boundaries have become so blurred over the years. Hymns that were once thought to be exclusively the property of Protestants now are very much sung by Catholics. A perfect example is ‘A Mighty Fortress,' once considered the battle hymn of the reformation. Then ‘Faith of Our Fathers' was kind of a counter-reformation hymn from England, but now both are beloved (in both kinds of churches.)
Q. Is the Hymnathon a fundraiser?
A. "For requesting their favorite hymns, people are asked to give an offering of some sort. We've raised a sizable chunk (in previous years) for the church music program."
What: St. Stephen's Hymnathon, a community hymn sing followed by refreshments
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: St. Stephen's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, 35 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre
More info: 704-7055