For example, I live in a Stake surrounding a big university. We have many families of University professors. That can be good or bad, depending on several factors. Good because we have a lot of talented people. Bad because those talented people are in great demand elsewhere. This is also an area where the residents are getting older. They just cannot participate in choral singing like they used to.
Our Stake Conferences are generally in January and June. January is difficult because it's the beginning of a new semester and just after Christmas break, and families seem to contract sicknesses after vacations. Scheduling rehearsals is just a bear because there is just not enough time prior to the Conference! The June Stake Conference falls just after School gets out for the summer as well as High School and college graduations. Many families high-tail it out of town on vacations. Some professors even take their families to far away places for months on end to do their summer research projects.
So what's a Stake Music Coordinator to do?
At our Stake Conference Choir rehearsal last night we had a very small contingent of singers --- 8-10 men, and about 20-ish women. The director had planned on 50+ singers and had bought extra music just in case. The song was a well-known Tabernacle Choir piece for SSAATTBB and Organ. Perhaps she was just being too optimistic.
The building where we meet for Conference is enormous and has 50+ seats in the choir loft. So a measly 25 singers hardly make a dent in the space available, let alone deliver the sound required for 8 part singing.
It may have been a better plan for her to choose more flexible music --- something that would sound good with however many voices showed up. SATB or even SAB would have suited this particular group of singers better. But who knows how many singers will show up out of the blue next week for Conference?
Here is an arrangement for SATB and Organ that also includes the Congregation on the last verse. It delivers a big sound whether it be a few or many! "How Firm a Foundation"