News from the pews

I’d been sent the hymns yesterday afternoon, and I didn’t know one of them at all.  I looked it up, it was a modern one – more of a song than a hymn with a flowing bass line, and I had a feeling that it wouldn’t go well on our church organ.  So I arrived early, rather expecting not to be able to sight-read it that easily, and that I’d have to spend a bit of time learning it.

When there are a lot of notes and no one knows the tune, it’s easy for the extra bits to get in the way.  I spent some time working out a different arrangement, based more on chords, that would sound all right but suit the instrument and be easier to follow.  This sounds cleverer than it was.  I just left out a lot of notes, basically.

The sidesman appeared waving the bottle of Communion wine.  It was nearly empty.  We studied it and decided that someone had taken some to take to one of the retirement homes for a service, and hadn’t thought to let one of us know.  “The Sage has got a bottle of port I brought him from Portugal.  I’ll fetch some of that.” I provide the Communion wine.  It’s an entirely appropriate gift from me to the congregation, to buy decent port for the occasion.  You have to have a fortified wine, regular red wine tastes thin and doesn’t keep.  So, I pedalled home and explained to the Sage, who was quite perturbed.  “You won’t take much, will you?” he asked.  I told him that I wouldn’t, and that I’d buy more next week for the church. 

I took it along and chatted for a few minutes to the people who had arrived.  Finally, “what time is it?”  “Two minutes to eleven”, I was told.  “I’d better fill an awkward silence while we wait for the Rector and the rest of the conversation, then” I said as I hastened back to the organ.

It was noticeable that I’d practised in the past week, as I played better than usual.  The Rector arrived and came to speak to me.  “Everything all right?” she asked.  I nodded.  “I couldn’t find the words I’d printed out for that new hymn,” she said.  “Can you find something you know well for the second hymn instead?”

So, I spent a few minutes looking up the Bible readings and finding something suitable.  I did.  I’ve already forgotten what it was, but it was fine.  I’ve got another funeral to play for on Friday, so will be well practised by then.  I can coast along without much effort for weeks afterwards.

9 comments on “News from the pews

  1. Mike and Ann

    We had an open air service on the lawns of the Deanery Garden this morning following yesterday’s fete; and when singing in the open air a lot more welly than usual has to be given for the hymns to be audible. The choir was in civvies, not being officially on duty this morning, but we all clumped up together (being creatures of habit) and really let rip – the hymns being ones we know well, so in the end our efforts were fairly successful.

  2. Z

    Voices do disappear out of doors – but it sounds lovely if there are enough of you. I like to rattle out the music at a good pace and make the congregation keep up!

  3. Mike and Ann

    I made it seven choir members, but we rarely field more than ten, eight ladies, one tenor and one base, and I don’t want to work out the average age of the choir- it would be depressing, our senior member has been singing with the choir since 1924!!!!!

  4. Z

    I have a friend who put on a concert, at which she sang, for her 90th birthday, but then she gracefully retired. Singing in a choir for 86 years is remarkable.

    I’m being careful, thank you, Dave. It’s okay, but tender and I’m afraid of doing real damage with an incautious movement. Sadly, it seems that housework and gardening are both off today’s agenda.

  5. Christopher

    Oh, Z, not you too? And don’t you kind that stretching your arms forward on to the manuals causes exquisite pain in the back? And you squirm and squirm in agony and the congregation thinks your pedalling has come on no end. It’s not easy, being an organist.

  6. Z

    I’ve been wondering what triggered it, Chris – that is, I know when it ‘went’ but not why. I’ve realised it was the slippery organ stool and the music in the wrong place in the church I played in last Friday.

    When I practised, I was wearing jeans, but I wore a silk skirt to the funeral and slithered all over the place. And our organ only has one manual and this one has two – nice to play, but just that extra reaching.

  7. sablonneuse

    Most modern Hymn tunes are not written with village church organs in mind are they?
    If they want to include them frequently you’ll have to ask for a piano to be installed.


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