"At least an octave"

A few years ago I observed a humorous dialogue between a church music director and her singers. I was in the back of the chapel as a visitor, keeping myself occupied prior to the start of another meeting, and the rehearsing choir did not know me as a musician.

The choir had been working on the stirring, classic hymn, 'How Great Thou Art,' and after finishing the final verse the director sought to inspire her sopranos with the following words: "when you come to the last chorus, do that thing that sopranos do." Not certain what she meant, and trying to be helpful, her supportive accompanist suggested, "do you mean, have them sing an octave higher?"

"Yes!" the volunteer director responded affirmatively, "... at least an octave!"

And off they went-- a small handful of church sopranos attempting with all their might to oblige their volunteer director, straining to overcome vocal escape velocity and achieve the upper stratosphere of 'at least' an octave higher, together with an exuberant accompanist making her own best efforts to roll giant full-bodied chords in both hands just to help the lift-off.

(You can picture this, right?)

When strained by the responsibilities of life and in need of a smile, perhaps we can think of this little choir's super-human efforts to achieve 'at least an octave.' Their task was impossible, but that didn't stop them from enjoying the music.