NORWAY – In the end, eight hours of singing hymns proved more uplifting than the beginning.

So said the Rev. Ann Stanley of Christ Episcopal Church in Norway after parishioners and others sang the first verse of 720 hymns nonstop for eight hours.

The event was held as a fund-raiser, with half of the proceeds slated for church roof repairs and the other half promised to the Oxford Hills Family Shelter. After the singing, an international supper was held.

“It was wonderful, very exhilarating,” Stanley said.

“In fact, when we all got to church on Sunday morning we learned that we sang hymns in our sleep. The choir was also in good voice on Sunday,” he added.

Ted Kehn, organist, choir member and Hymn Day Committee member, got the idea to hold the event from a church in the Midwest.

He said most of the choir was there the whole day and seven organists, all from Christ Episcopal Church, took turns playing for the eight hours.

Stanley also played violin for several selections.

Kehn said some of the music was strange, mostly the chants, because it’s seldom performed.

“What was tough about it was that we only knew less than half of the music,” Kehn said. “But I guess you’d say we muddled through. I told them I wanted to be on the committee that revises the hymn book.”

Stanley said the church, which can hold 100 people comfortably, was quite full most of the day. She said there was a little lull after lunch, but then it filled up again.

She said the event was run from a chart that listed on what song the group should be on the hour and the half hour for the full eight hours.

“We were nine minutes behind sometime in the afternoon, but we made it up without rushing,” Stanley said.

Perhaps the biggest distraction to the choir and other parishioners singing was the odor of the international meal that was being prepared in the kitchen.

“We were smelling it all day long. It was coming through the floor,” Stanley said. “At the end, for the last few hymns, we all surged to our feet. When it was over, we just erupted in a great cheer, had a prayer, and went downstairs to the feast.”

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