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Hiccups and organs

Every now and then I like to do a little bit of "Google Globetrotting" and find specific places I have been in the world. This one came to mind a few moments ago:

(click for Google map)

This is a small cruciform Catholic church in the middle of the small town of Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, which is about 50 miles south of Kiev. I'm pretty sure this is actually the church the town is named after (Bila Tserkva meaning "white church.")

When I was in Kiev a Ukrainian friend of ours arranged for us to travel by bus so that we could spend the day in this community, which was her hometown. As we walked around the central part of the city, we walked into this church and were immediately enveloped in the incredibly ornate artistry of the interior and the booming melodies emanating from the giant organ in the front. The organ was being played by a small, hunched old woman. We took several seats near the altar and listened as she practiced for that weekend's Mass.

One of my friends suffered from chronic hiccups, and started having an attack. When she starts hiccuping, they come one after another for quite a long time. This is usually not a big deal, but in a church like this, the acoustics make them echo for what seems like five minutes each. After several minutes of my friend's best attempts at covering her incessant sound, the organ music suddenly stopped and the kindly old women turned around to us and asked, in gentle Russian, if she would like to get her a glass of water.

Of course, water was no solution, but we did take the opportunity, since the ice was broken, to ask the old woman if we could sing a couple of songs. There were seven of us altogether so we became an impromptu choir of sorts. I don't remember everything we sang, but I do recall "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Precious Cross," which was amazing. And just as we had listened to the beauty of the massive organ, the old woman seemed to be carried by the beauty of seven small voices filling the sanctuary that rainy Saturday afternoon.

Anyway, thanks for taking this little memory journey with me.


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Anonymous Anonymous - 4:56 PM

It must have been a tremendous privelege to have been there to hear the organ music. I wish I had been there to hear it and to hear your group sing. I am sure it was a blessing to those who heard it-Christian or whatever.
I have visited that church when I was in Bela Tzerkva in 1997 for ten or twelve days. I was there for a Evangelism Explosion Inter-
national clinic. The church was being built to consolidate 3-5 small churches. The bricks were a sparkling white (they called it "White Church") and it was a beautiful building.    



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