by Leigh Anne Naas, Decani alto

Today, Thursday, was our “plain day,” a day of vocal rest for the choir.

It is important for us to take a Sabbath rest during this trip. With 2 hours for rehearsal each morning and 2½ hours for rehearsal and the Evensong service each evening, allowing for enough time to walk from the hotel to the cathedral and time for vesting in our choir robes, we spend about 6 hours a day working as a choir. While many take vacation from their day-jobs to join this trip, they are not using that time as a leisurely stroll through the English countryside. This pilgrimage is a lot of work.

So the plain day–the Sabbath–is a time to practice self-care and rest. For some that rest comes in the form of getting laundry done or shopping for essentials such as blister care items. For some, exploring nearby historic sites such as Bath, Stonehenge, or Old Sarum fills their souls. A few venture off to explore yet another cathedral (we choir types can’t seem to get enough of them!). Some take naps, catch up on reading, make progress on a needlepoint project, or book a massage at a local spa.

Rest is a holy practice, and it takes varied forms for each of us.

My roommate on the pilgrimage is Erica Dollhopf, who joined the Trinity choir in September 2019. She framed our pilgrimage nicely during our chat last night: “What I like about this trip is that I am here to do a job. I’m here to sing for an important and prestigious cathedral. The structure of my day is set for me, and my purpose is clear. I can set aside all the distractions of daily life and focus on what I came here to do.”

Tomorrow we resume our daily routine of rehearsal and singing, with three more Evensong services and one Eucharist service remaining.

Editor’s note: Sunday services at Salisbury Cathedral can be viewed via live stream. The Eucharist service begins at 10:30am GMT (5:30am Eastern), and the Evensong service begins at 4:30pm GMT (11:30am Eastern).